Lure of monetary gain best bet for short-term weight loss

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Washington, Dec 10 (ANI): Economic incentives appear to be effective for achieving short-term weight loss, according to a preliminary study.

For the study, 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, Philadelphia, and colleagues, designed two incentive-based approaches for losing weight.

One was a lottery-based group in which the participants played a lottery and received the earnings if they achieved or lost more than the target weight.

And the other was a deposit contract condition in which the participants invested their own money, which they lost if they failed to achieve weight goals.

The researchers randomly assigned 57 participants to participate in either a weight-monitoring program involving monthly weigh-ins, or the same program with one of the two financial incentive plans (deposit contract or lottery). All participants had a goal weight loss of 16-pounds over 16 weeks.

"The incentive groups lost significantly more weight than the control group (mean [average] 3.9 pounds)," the authors said.

"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," they added.

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 dollars in the deposit contract condition and 272.80 dollars in the lottery condition."

The researchers 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 said.

The study is published in the December 10 issue of JAMA. (ANI)

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