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Financial incentive weight loss programs gaining popularity

Photo: UNE Photos via Flickr

A new study found that in addition to a little cold hard cash, the support of coworkers is all it takes for people to get lean. The question is, though, what program design works best?

To arrive at the results, researchers crafted three scenarios for the 105 obese participants. Under one, employees got $100 for each month they met the goal of dropping at least one pound per week. Under the second scenario, $500 was set aside each month for a group of five co-workers and the ones who met their goal got to split the prize. The third consisted of providing no incentive for weight loss.

Researchers found after five months of weighing in that splitting the pot was most motivating.

These types of programs may soon find their way to a workplace near you (or even yours!) but, as Robert Jeffery, Ph.D., discussed with Reuters Health, there are still questions to be answered on which program provides the best value.

“There are hundreds of different ways you can think about doing it. I don’t think there’s a consensus about what the best way is,” said Jeffery, a School of Public Health researcher who has studied financial incentives.

He noted that past research found that programs frequently rewarding employees-maybe every week-proved to be a good motivator. Others, he described, involved money matching or losing systems based on weight loss performance.

“There are still many strategies to explore,” Jeffery said, adding that paying people increased increments as the keep the weight off could also be effective.

While weight loss is rewarding on its own, it is clear incentives are beneficial in workplace challenges. Still, finding the perfect formula continues to be a challenge.

Read the full article from Fox News.

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