Cash may not be the best weight loss incentive

9 February 2011

Offering obese people cash as an incentive to losing way is unlikely to have long-term health benefits.

According to new US research, overweight individuals who are given a financial incentive to eat less and exercise more are likely to see the weight they lose creep back on once the monetary reward is taken away.

The researchers behind the new study, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, noted that while incentivised weight loss was dramatic, it was generally short lived.

Leslie John, who led the study, said: "Financial incentives produced significant weight loss over an eight-month intervention."

"However, participants regained weight post-intervention," he added.

The study involved 66 adults with body mass indexes of between 30 and 40. The group was split and half of the participants were offered a lucrative deposit deal, where every $3 they paid into their account would be matched by the research team if they managed to lose weight.

Recent research conducted at Imperial College London and Harvard University, in the US, showed that obesity cases have increased dramatically since the 1980s.

1 John, Leslie et al. "Financial Incentives for Extended Weight Loss: A Randomized, Controlled Trial". Journal of General Internal Medicine. January 2011.

2 "National, regional, and global trends in body-mass index since 1980: systematic analysis of health examination surveys and epidemiological studies with 960 country-years and 9·1 million participants". The Lancet. Friday, February 4th 2011.

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