Should you diet for dollars?

Should you diet for dollars? New research shows that financial rewards for pounds lost provide extra incentive to help you win at losing.

Maybe some money will boost your motivation to stick with healthy eating and exercise? Dropping pounds for dollars can really pay off!

In a year-long diet study conducted at the Mayo Clinic, 100 obese subjects were randomly assigned to a diet and lifestyle program with financial incentives for pounds lost or the same program without the cash incentives. All subjects were provided with weight-loss counseling, monthly weigh-ins and a three-month gym membership. This in the financial incentive group also received $20.00 if they lost four pounds a month. If they failed, they paid $20 into a kitty.

After 52-weeks, those who were in the financial incentive group lost an average of 9 pounds compared to just 2 pounds in the group not gaining cash incentives. The researchers found that the financial incentives help increase adherence to the lifestyle changes. Some 62% of the participants in the incentive group remaining in the study through the 52 weeks, but just 26% of the individuals who were not compensated for losing weight staying with the entire program.

Using monetary rewards to spark positive health behavior change in nothing new. Studies show that when people have a financial gain for doing better on a physical task or at work, they will perform better. Other studies have shown that financial incentives help smokers quit and help with some other types of addictions. Research shows that the brain responds positively to receiving monetary rewards and will help provide that extra motivation you need to stick with your resolve to eat well and move more.

If you’d like to see if you can up your odds of losing weight with a financial incentive, check to see if your employer would consider hosting this type of program. If not, you can start a diet bet with your friends of colleagues on your own. You only need a few people to make it a success. For the biggest benefit, make sure the wager is an amount of money that motivates. If you’re only winning pennies per pound, your brain will probably say the payoff isn’t worth the sacrifice.

What do you think about this? I’d love your thoughts!

Article By-
Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., CSSD
Co-Author, 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions (Penguin, 2013)
Co-Founder, Appetite for Health

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