Incentivize Your Way to Weight Loss Success 4 April 2013
A new study put forward by the University of Michigan Medical School suggests that money may help people lose weight — before you think that you might get rich, let’s be clear: the study found that financial incentives, when offered, contributed to participants dropping more pounds, in the study.
Researchers looked at two incentives. Under the first, employees (all of whom worked at a hospital) received $100 for each month they met a goal of losing at least one pound per week that month. The second scenario offered $500 for a group of five co-workers, and the ones who met their weekly one-pound weight loss got to split the prize money.
What the researchers found is that people tended to be more motivated to complete a goal when a particular resource allocated to them would be given to someone else if that person didn’t achieve their goal.
Participants in the study weighed-in each month for five months. There were three different groups: one in which people received the individual award, one in which people were in the five-person shared group, and a group for which there was no prize given for losing weight. By the end of the research study, those in the no-reward group, lost only about a pound each. Those who received individual incentives lost 3.7 pounds, and those who were part of the five-person, shared prize group lost an average of 10.6 pounds — nearly three times the other prize group and over 10 times the no-reward group!
The incentive that a person could receive more than $100 if they did their part and others did not seemed to boost the overall participation of people in that group. Few people wanted to have their prize money allocated to someone else if they failed.
So what does this mean for you? Well, it could be information you can use to start a weight loss contest at your workplace, or with a group of friends or family. When compared to other popular group weight loss models, this shows promise of being an effective one, especially as it has been noted that the “Biggest Loser” style of competition doesn’t translate well to the workplace because all or most of the prize money goes to a select few individuals, even though the entire group may have lost substantial weight.
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