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Money talks when it comes to losing weight
March 11th, 2013
01:10 PM ET

Money talks when it comes to losing weight

How'd you like to get paid to lose weight? Financial incentives can help improve your odds of dropping pounds, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic followed 100 Mayo employees over the course of a year as they took educational classes on how to eat healthy and lose weight.

The employees were broken up into several groups - some of which got financial incentives to shed the pounds and others that just got the classes.

"We found that people who receive financial incentives tended to stick with the healthy behaviors we all wish we would do more often," said lead study author Dr. Stephen Driver, an internal medicine resident at Mayo Clinic.

"At 52 weeks, those in the financial arm of the study had lost an average of about 9 pounds," he said, "as compared to those who didn't receive financial incentives, who lost about 2 pounds."

Each participant received $20 for every pound they lost, but they also had to pay $20 for every pound they gained. Driver says the move wasn't just punitive; it was both an added incentive to lose weight and a way to fund the program.

"About 86% of large employers are already offering some kind of financial incentives to help employees reach their health goals," Driver said. "But one problem employers run into with financial incentives is that they can be expensive. Part of our model was to allow the so-called 'losers' to fund the 'winners,' and I think that can help things to be more sustainable."

This study is not the first to show the link between financial incentives and improved weight loss, but with one year of follow up, it is the longest.

Driver did point out one limitation of this particularly study design:

"Because it was research, everybody knew which group they were in," he said. "There may have been a higher proportion of dropouts in the non-incentive group."

Why? Because they knew there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, which may prove the point of the study even more.

"I think the message is financial incentives can be an important part of the puzzle, and an important tool to help keep you motivated."

Websites offer cash to lose weight


soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Rocky Barragan

    http://www.youtube.com/rockybarragan I lost over 133 pounds and have kept it off for over 6 years. Check out my YouTube Channel where I post Healthy Recipes, Grocery Hauls, Fitness DVD Reviews and Personal Vlogs. Hope to see you there!

    March 11, 2013 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. stickyhumid

    Amazing that this is even a question.

    People stick to their diets when they get paid. wow!

    People stick to all kinds of things when they get paid. They don't like their jobs (or working out at the gym), but paying them makes them "stick to it".

    March 11, 2013 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Fiona

    Financial incentives help motivate in most things, so why would it be any different with weight loss?

    March 11, 2013 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. jazo

    That is one scary toe without a nail!

    March 11, 2013 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • relmfoxdale

      This person has all their nails–what are you looking at? But it is a pretty horrid foot model to use.

      March 11, 2013 at 18:43 | Report abuse |
    • Emilie

      Yeah...this person should have been given a monetary incentive to get their toes done. Ewwwwww

      March 12, 2013 at 12:12 | Report abuse |
  5. Shocky

    Evolution Fat Loss Program... Check it out dont wait – http://426a33j9u5pkrf20kh9t7lax5w.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=0224

    March 11, 2013 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. relmfoxdale

    As noted on an episode of South Park, money also cures HIV.

    March 11, 2013 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Barbarajean martin

    Where is $$

    March 11, 2013 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Jen

    Well obviously if you can't afford to eat well, then getting more money would help. The same effect happens with moving off welfare into a job or changing to a better paid job. Healthy food costs money.

    March 12, 2013 at 01:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. L

    9 lbs in a year. Not worth it.

    March 12, 2013 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Dennis

    paid to lose weight ,and it helps people.... interesting... how about getting healthy , for the right reasons and dropping pounds to be healthy for you and your family .... learning a heart healthy diet to have a higher quality of life .... interested ..the reward is longer life, happier you,more energy,no bloating or acid reflux ... lower blood pressure , go off diabetic medicines....this is just to name a few side effects of being healthy .. if you want to lose weight fast and safely come to this site and it can help ....http://howdoilosewaterweight.com/

    March 12, 2013 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. The_Mick

    I thought the story was going to be about income, not rewards. Money also talks in that sense. For example, when my operated-on and repaired Achilles tendons got sore on long walks, I bought a bicycle and a car bike-rack to go to county bike trails. I ended up spending $700 for everything. This winter I considered joining a gym at $50/month so I could swim in the pool 3x/week when it was too cold to cycle. On the diet end of things, fresh veggies aren't cheap and lean ground beef is more expensive than the 20% fat stuff.

    March 12, 2013 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ser

    could have gotten a better foot model...those toes are horrific.

    March 12, 2013 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. luv2funrun

    Could CNN not find better toe pictures?? My goodness!

    March 12, 2013 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. blueridgecynic

    this idea is bad on a number of levels. first, there is no mention of rewarding the people who have managed their weight all along, just a plan to reward the ones who have eaten their way into being overweight. second, there is no mention of where the money for such a program would come from, and somehow i have a hunch it would be carved out of my wallet, just like i pay ever higher insurance premiums due in large part to skyrocketing costs of weight-related healthcare. third, how is it possible to "cure" a disease with financial incentives? remember, obesity was re-categorized as a disease so insurance would cover the bariatric surgery, etc. this study would appear to prove that obesity is not a disease, merely the result of behavioral choices, and money can induce a person to change those choices. do they think we are all stupid?

    March 12, 2013 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Prab R. Tumpati, MD

    8 Biggest Mistakes Obese People Make And How To Avoid Them!

    1. Avoid High Glycemic Foods and Think Protein!
    When people were fed high glycemic foods, they consumed up to 55 percent more foods as they get hungry sooner!

    2. Stop Looking At The Food!
    41.7% of obese people took seats that directly faced the buffet, as opposed to seats out of eyesight of the food. Looking at food (not on our table) makes our body and mind less full and feel we have more work to do, i.e. eat more. Keep food stored away and not laying out during the day.

    3. Start With A Smaller Plate!
    When two plates were offered, 98.6% of people with a higher BMI(Body Mass Index) took the larger plate in a buffet line. A larger plate will fool your brain into thinking you’re eating less than you actually are. Use a smaller plate, get a smaller waist line.

    4. Do Not Eat All In The Plate!
    During the study, 94% obese people cleaned their plates to the point of nothing being left. Forget your Mom’s advice and leave a little food left on the plate. Better waste than waist!

    5. Chew More!
    The researchers observed chewing of participants in the study. The heaviest one-third chewed their food almost 25% less than the leanest one-third. Slow down. Take your time. Chew your food.

    6. Do not jump right in!
    The most obese people didn’t take time to observe all the items on the buffet. They grabbed a plate and started in right away. The leanest took their time and made a lap of the buffet. In your day to day life, stop and think for a second before you eat. Often times that quick craving will slowly fade away.

    7. Never Skip Breakfast!
    They don’t call it the most important meal of the day for a reason. Skipping breakfast regularly increases your risk of obesity by 450%. Take the time to have a healthy breakfast in the morning. It will jump start your metabolism and leave you less hungry by lunch. If you start the day with protein, studies have shown that you consume less calories and be less hungry throughout the day. A good and cheap source of protein would be eggs, cheese, yoghurt or meat! The cholesterol in the eggs is not a major concern as eggs have lecithin which is beneficial. If you are still concerned about cholesterol, you can just have the egg whites which have no cholesterol.

    8. Eat With Chopsticks(or Fingers)!
    Some buffets offer chopsticks. The clinically obese almost always opt for forks. Try using chopsticks around the home to slow down eating and create a feeling of fullness with less calories consumed.

    Prab R. Tumpati, MD
    Obesity and Sleep Medicine
    Founder, W8MD Medical Weight Loss Centers
    http://www.w8md.com

    March 12, 2013 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jennifer

      Point 4 just encourages food waste. It's natural for people to avoid doing that, the answer is to put less on the plate in the first place, not to waste perfectly good food.

      March 15, 2013 at 03:59 | Report abuse |
  16. Sarah

    There is no doubt that financial incentives can have an impact n losing weight. Last year I got together with a few family members for a small financial wager on who can lose the most weight over a two month period and we all lost quite a bit of weight over that time. Sometimes you need motivation.

    March 15, 2013 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Rick03

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    March 15, 2013 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Loren B.

    I think it is a terrible idea to pay someone to lose weight. Why not lose weight for the health benefits and just because it makes you feel better? There are all kinds of ways to lose weight including some newer ideas like get rid of white sugar and white flour from your diet or intermittent fasting which has some great benefits. http://intermittentfastingandweightloss.com

    March 18, 2013 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mohammad

    Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting
    for your next post thanks once again.

    March 28, 2013 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. ERIK

    This is dumb, what do i get for being skinny and caring about my health? so we pay the fatties to lose weight in which they will probably gain back buy using that money to go to mcdonalds and stuff their face with double cheeseburgers. How about this because i never gripe about something without a solution, offer money to individuals that consistantly stay in good health and shape and it will inspire the overweight to fall into these guidelines so they can line their pockets with some money.

    April 9, 2013 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. David_WeightLos

    If you really want to lose weight, check out this great 14 day diet plan, its ideal for extreme fat burning and will garantee weight loss within 14 days.

    April 9, 2013 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Fernando Enriquez

    Can anyone provide a link to the study this article is based off of?

    April 15, 2013 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Lose Weight Diets

    I am not positive where you are getting your info, however good topic. I needs to spend a while studying more or working out more. Thanks for great info I used to be on the lookout for this information for my mission.

    April 20, 2013 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Janise Emerling

    hola a todos, yo también soy nuevo en los foros. Aunque me he unido hace unos momentos, estoy al acecho de los foros en el momento, para conocer lo que está pasando.

    June 2, 2013 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Tanya R. Eller

    This is an interesting article. Most of the time, you need to have money to help you with your weight loss scheme. Of course, you have to buy the healthiest foods and hit the gym a little too often just to ensure that you will lose weight. If some people tell you that money cannot help you, they lied. http://weightlossgurus.org

    June 4, 2013 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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