This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Three out of four Americans are either overweight or obese. Health reasons alone are not enough to get them to lose weight, but new research shows dangling some cold hard cash might do the trick for a while.
Three groups of overweight volunteers tried to lose 16 pounds in 16 weeks. Group One deposited money into an account, which they lost if they failed to lose weight. In a second group, each volunteer played a kind of lottery and received cash if they achieved or lost more than their target goal. As for the third group, they were asked, but not paid, to lose weight.
After 16 weeks, paying to lose actually won: The no-money group lost four pounds, the lottery group lost 13 pounds, and the deposit group lost 14 pounds.
When the money ran out, so did the weight loss. In fact, they gained it back.
"There is no magic bullet, and it's hard work," said registered dietitian Joann Hattner. "The best way for long-term weight loss is to change your behavior, both your eating behavior and your activities, so you maintain new behaviors over a long period of time that result in weight loss and weight maintenance."
Financial-incentive programs are creeping into the workplace. Some employers offer gym memberships to get employees into shape.