Posted by: shoji | September 25, 2007

Pay ’em to lose weight

Here’s a simple idea:  pay overweight people to lose weight.

If being fit and living longer isn’t enough of an incentive, then let’s pay cold hard cash for people to shed the pounds. I think we may see health insurers moving in this direction for certain diseases that have obvious metrics and require substantial “patient compliance” or “patient adherence”, whatever the P.C. term is nowadays.

In addition to weight loss, this may be applicable to diabetes management (e.g., payment tied to blood glucose measurements and/or A1c) and hypertension (which is dependent on patients actually taking their drugs).

Health insurers take a lot of your and/or your employer’s money. By giving you a cold-hard-cash refund, would you work harder to achieve your health goals?

This study suggests yes.

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine – Abstract: Volume 49(9) September 2007 p 981-989

A Pilot Study Testing the Effect of Different Levels of Financial Incentives on Weight Loss Among Overweight Employees.
Objective: To test the ability of two levels of modest financial incentives to encourage weight loss among overweight employees.

Methods: This study used a randomized design with measurements at baseline, 3, and 6 months and two levels of financial incentives ($7 and $14 per percentage point of weight lost). Payments were structured so that all participants had equal ability to obtain the incentives during the study period.

Results: At 3 months, participants with no financial incentive lost 2 pounds, those in the $7 group lost approximately 3 pounds, and those in the $14 group lost 4.7 pounds. Between baseline and 6 months, when the financial gains were equalized, weight losses were similar across groups.

Conclusion: This study revealed that modest financial incentives can be effective in motivating overweight employees to lose weight.



  1. Thats interesting how when money gets involved the people seem to be more enthusiastic about losing weight. I wish someone would pay me to lose weight!

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