People Will Lose Weight for Just $20 a Month

Financial incentives boosted success rate in weight-loss study

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 8, 2013 1:50 PM CST

(Newser) – Having a hard time losing weight? Cold hard cash could help. The results of a new study by the Mayo Clinic show that people did a better job of losing weight when they were paid to do so, reports Science World Report. The Mayo Clinic notes that while the finding isn't new, its study tracked more participants over a longer period of time (100 people over a year). The subjects had a BMI of 30 to 39.9, putting them in the obese category. They were divided into incentive and no-incentive groups, then asked to lose four pounds a month—those in the incentive groups were paid $20 per month for meeting that goal; the "incentived" ones who didn't had to pay a $20 penalty.

For people in the incentive groups, 62% achieved the monthly goal, while only 26% of participants in the incentive-free groups did. Overall, those in the incentive groups lost an average of 9.08 pounds, while the non-incentive groups' average was 2.34 pounds. And even those who paid the penalty were more likely to stick with the study than those with no incentive. "The take-home message is that sustained weight loss can be achieved by financial incentives," says the lead researcher. "The financial incentives can improve results, and improve compliance and adherence."

A Mayo Clinic study shows that financial incentives can help people lose weight.
A Mayo Clinic study shows that financial incentives can help people lose weight.   (Shutterstock)
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