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Rolling Out Dough May Motivate Employees to Drop Pounds, Study Shows

March 12, 2013
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Offering financial incentives may be more effective in motivating employees to achieve weight-loss goals than previously thought, according to a recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic.

Participants in the study were grouped into one of four control groups. Two groups offered a $20 reward to individuals who were able to achieve a monthly weight-loss goal. The other two groups were offered no financial incentives.

According to the study, all participants were given a goal of losing four pounds per month up to a pre-determined weight. Those who could not achieve their goal for the month paid $20 into a lottery pool, which all individuals in the group were eligible to win.

The study found that 62 percent of participants in the financial-incentive group achieved their ultimate weight-loss goal, whereas only 26 percent of participants in the non-incentive group achieved their ultimate goal. The study also shows that participants in the incentive group who paid penalties for missed monthly goals were more likely to accomplish total weight-loss goals than participants in the non-incentive group.

"The take-home message is that sustained weight loss can be achieved by financial incentives," which can improve results, and improve compliance and adherence to weight loss goals, said Dr. Steven Driver, lead author of the study and internal medicine resident at the Mayo Clinic, in a news release.

Dr. Donald Hensrud, preventive-medicine expert at the Mayo Clinic, says obesity continues to be a major concern in the United States because extra weight contributes to conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

"Traditional therapies are not working for a lot of people, so people are looking for creative ways to help people lose weight and keep it off. The results of this study show the potential of financial incentives," Hensrud said in the news release.

Max Mihelich is Workforce's associate editor. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Mihelich on Twitter at @workforcemax.

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