A Fatter Wallet Doesn’t Mean A Thinner Waistline (You & Your Health)

This is the time of year when so many of us have resolved to lose weight, eat better, and live a healthier life. However, a new study suggests financial incentives offered to employees who meet weight loss goals do not usually work.

From U.S. News & World Report:

Many large U.S. companies offer reduced health insurance premiums or other financial incentives to entice workers to adopt healthy lifestyles and shed excess pounds, the University of Pennsylvania researchers said. 

“There is often a presumption that the size of the reward is all that matters,” said Dr. Kevin Volpp, director of the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics. “In reality, incentive systems vary in effectiveness according to how well they are designed.”

Participants in the study were broken up into four groups. Three offered varying weight loss incentives valued at $550. The fourth offered no incentive for losing weight. After 12 months, researchers found no significant weight loss difference between the groups.

According to a story on National Public Radio, “The incentives may have failed for a number of reasons. The $550 premium discount may not have been large enough. Bundling the financial reward into the insurance premium on a paycheck rather than making a separate payment to the worker may have affected how it was perceived. Other details — such as the fact that participants weighed themselves at work rather than at home — may have been off-putting to some participants.”

Researchers added that they believe people need regular feedback in order to motivate them. Share your thoughts on how organizations might be able to motivate employees to live a healthier lifestyle. Meeting that type of challenge is another step in our goal to make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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