Penalties May Encourage People to Lose Pounds

March 7, 2013


New research has shown that incentives and penalties may lead to helping people in their journey to lose weight.

On Monday new research will be presented at the American College of Cardiology ‘s annual conference suggesting that both financial incentives and disincentives can work to encourage people to lose weight. These incentives do not have to be much, in fact the study showed that paying a participant $20 per month for losing four pounds could help that participant produce results.

The study was conducted using 100 volunteers with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 39.9 (which placed them in the category of obese). These participants were then placed into two groups that would receive financial incentives for weight loss and two groups that did not. Of the two groups that had financial incentives one group would receive $20 per month for meeting their goals, while the other would be penalized $20 per month for not achieving goals.

The study found that 62% of those who were paid for losing weight each month “stayed the course” while only 26% of those who did not receive financial incentives continued. Additionally the average amount of weight loss among the incentive group was 9 pounds, with the average weight loss for non-incentive groups was 2.3 pounds on average.

These findings may encourage employers to begin offering incentive programs to improve the health of their employees or could lead to federal incentive programs, though it is currently too early to tell. The biggest key to this study may be finding a way to keep this motivation over time without breaking anyone’s bank.

By Dr. Michael Omidi

weight loss and financial incentives

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