Many try to lose weight for their appearance, their health, or their significant others – but would you be more successful at losing weight for money instead? A new study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, proves that money serves as a powerful incentive for losing weight.
In order to test this concept, researchers took 105 obese employees from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They were enrolled in a weight-loss program that aimed to see who could lose the most weight in six months and keep it off for the following three months. They had people lose weight individually with a financial incentive of $100, lose weight as a team and split a lump sum of money, and sign up for monthly weigh-ins with no financial incentive.
Those who worked as part of a group lost an average of 10.5 pounds — twice as much as those who dieted alone. The teams worked to lose weight without actually knowing who their teammates were. Each team had a pool of $500 each month to split among five members who had met specific weight-loss goals.
Under this arrangement, a team member who met his or her weight-loss goals was guaranteed at least $100; however, he or she may get more money if other teammates fell short of their goal. The fewer people who actually lose the required amount of weight, the more money each successful person receives.
This form of competition weight loss is growing in popularity — especially after the success of TV programs like The Biggest Loser.
This method of losing weight could prove useful for employers who are trying to make their office healthier for insurance companies. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The Affordable Care Act allows employers to use an increased share of insurance premiums to offer employee inducements to lose weight and improve their health.” Some employers, like Scotts Miracle-Gro or IBM, already give employees incentives to lose weight and stay healthy.