A preliminary study suggests that economic incentives appear to be effective for achieving short-term weight loss, according to a report in the December 10 issue of JAMA.
“In 2004, 71 percent of
Kevin G. Volpp, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Wharton School, VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion,
“The incentive groups lost significantly more weight than the control group (mean [average] 3.9 pounds),” the authors report. “Compared with the control group, the lottery group lost a mean of 13.1 pounds and the deposit contract group lost a mean of 14.0 pounds. About half of those in both incentive groups met the 16-pound target weight loss: 47.4 percent in the deposit contract group and 52.6 percent in the lottery group, whereas 10.5 percent in the control group met the 16-pound target.” As for the incentives: “Over the course of the 16-week study, the average amount of money earned in weight loss incentives was $378.49 in the deposit contract condition and $272.80 in the lottery condition.” The authors note that the study participants in both of the incentive groups gained weight between the end of the weight loss incentive intervention and the end of 7 months, but still weighed less at 7 months than they did at the start of the study.
“In conclusion, incentive approaches based on behavioral economic concepts appear to be highly effective in inducing initial weight loss. However, this weight loss was not fully sustained and further work is needed to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these approaches in achieving sustained weight loss,” the authors write.
JAMA. 2008; 300:2631-2637.