According to a new study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, getting paid to lose weight may ensure those participating are able to lose more weight than normal.
In the study 161 participants took part in a randomised, 8-month long, Singapore-based Trial on Incentives for Obesity (TRIO).
To gain access to a 16-week intensive weight loss program the participants had to pay approximately $161.
This program required each participant to attend weekly sessions, where they were taught skills on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with the aim of encouraging them to lose at least 5% of their body weight.
These participants then paid $119 to gain access to a rewards program, whereby the participants were able to earn monthly rewards of cash or lottery tickets with a chance of winning 10 times the monthly weight loss and step goals achieved.
Other rewards were offered for anyone who met the 5% or 8% weight loss goals during the fourth and eighth month.
The maximum reward possible for each participant was $477 over this 8-month period, and was only available if all the weight loss and step goals were achieved.
Any participants who were placed into the ‘control’ group had any payments refunded, and were ineligible for any of the rewards.
What were the weight loss results?
At the end of the fourth month, those in the rewards groups had lost twice as much weight as those in the control group.
- Rewards group weight loss = 3.4 kg average
- Control group weight loss = 1.4 kg average
By the eighth month the average was 3.3 kg and 1.8 kg respectively, and at the twelfth month 2.3 kg and 0.8 kg.
Those who achieved over 5% weight loss was also higher from those in the rewards group.
- 40% vs 12% at month four
- 41% vs 21% at month eight
- 28% vs 17% at month twelve
The average reward payout over the course of the study was $153. However, only 42% of participants earned more than they paid in.
Eric Finkelstein, a professor at the Duke-NUS Medical School, lead author of the study had this to say about the findings:
“Our findings not only show the value of rewards to increase weight loss and weight loss maintenance, but they show it can be done in a manner that minimises third party payments, such as those by employers or insurers. This should help to expand access to these types of programs.”
Incentivised weight loss programs do work, this has been proven. But if you cannot overcome the reasons for your weight gain in the first place then chances are once the incentives go away your weight will start to climb again.