Do Financial Incentives Inspire Weight Loss?

It looks like GymPact had the right idea. The Science World Report recently reported on studies from the Mayo Clinic about the correlation between weight loss  and monetary compensation for doing so.

A previous study by the Mayo clinic found that financial incentives can help people lose weight, and that participants that had some kind of financial incentive at stake were more likely to follow a program strictly. An even newer study by the Mayo Clinic found that the participants who did have a financial incentive noticed body weight reduction AND follows weight loss programs more strictly.

So what was at stake? The participatns in the incentive groups were told that, if they achieved their goal of losing four pounds a month, they would receive $20 each month. And, on the flip side, if they didn’t meet the goal, they owed $20. That money went to a pool, and anyone in the incentive groups were entered to win the pool at the end of the study. Sounds pretty similar to the idea behind GymPact.

Steven Driver, M.D., the lead author of the study said:

The take-home message is that sustained weight loss can be achieved by financial incentives. The financial incentives can improve results, and improve compliance and adherence.

I definitely think this study makes sense. I mean, who isn’t motivated by money, or maybe even more so, the potential to lose money? Sometimes I wish I had something like hanging over my head to work out, because I know I would definitely be motivated by financial incentives. It’s definitely interesting though.

I do wonder how many of the people in the incentive groups kept the working out up and the weight off after the study ended and they no longer were motivated by money. While one would help they would still be successful, I have my doubts. It seems like if you aren’t motivated for the right reasons, like having a healthier lifestyle, it could be easy to fall off the wagon if you weren’t worried about losing money.

Regardless, I’m interested to see if any companies will take this idea and try and incorporate it into an app or something, like GymPact has. If it gets people moving, I’m all for it.

About the author

Katie Clark

Katie Clark

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

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