To test the ability of two levels of modest financial incentives to encourage weight loss among overweight employees.
This study used a randomized design with measurements at baseline, 3, and 6 months and two levels of financial incentives ($7 and $14 per percentage point of weight lost). Payments were structured so that all participants had equal ability to obtain the incentives during the study period.
At 3 months, participants with no financial incentive lost 2 pounds, those in the $7 group lost approximately 3 pounds, and those in the $14 group lost 4.7 pounds. Between baseline and 6 months, when the financial gains were equalized, weight losses were similar across groups.
This study revealed that modest financial incentives can be effective in motivating overweight employees to lose weight.