It’s Easy to Lose Weight…

when you get paid to do it.

A new study has found that people lose weight much easily when they are paid to do it.

Newly-published research reveals that financial incentives are remarkably effective in motivating people to lose weight. In a study involving 57 subjects, half were rewarded with a lottery prize if they achieved the weight loss goal (16 pounds), and the other half were asked to make a substantial cash deposit (several hundred dollars) which they would forfeit if they failed to lose the 16 pounds.

The results? The incentive groups lost about 4 pounds more than the non-incentive control group. About half the participants in both incentive groups met the 16-pound weight loss goal, earning $272.80 in the lottery group and reclaiming $378.49 in the deposit group.

Honestly, I am not surprised at the results. There are moments when I wish someone would pay me to lose weight. I have seriously thought “this would be much easier if someone would pay me to do this!!” This is what is called an extrinsic reward. You do it to get something tangible. Apparently losing weight for more intrinsic reasons (like health) isn’t as strong a motivator to lose weight.

The question is, if this study can be applied across the obese population, should we provide rewards for weight loss? I don’t have the figures to work, but I wonder if paying someone to lose weight would be cheaper than paying later for the effects of obesity (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc). And, who would pay? Should insurance companies provide rebates? The government? Business?