Diet Tips – the cash diet

Cash diet, in other words, getting paid to lose weight. I thought that most people reached some embarrassing point, and that was enough to motivate long term changes and weight loss. But apparently, cold hard cash works better.

According to researchers, an immediate payment as a reward for good behavior motivates individuals to change their long term habits more than any embarrassing moment. This happens, because if you change a habit, you may see results a few days or weeks or even months down the road. But you won’t see it now. However, with cash rewards, they give you the cash right then. So your brain immediately connects good behavior with an immediate reward rather than it will be worth it later.

Martin Binks PhD also suggests that though it may work for short term weight loss, some may actually use this technique to promote other personal goals. Kevin G Volpp MD conducted another study on the effects of cash incentives when he gathered 57 obese individuals. The challenge was to lose 16 pounds in 16 weeks. They weighed themselves every morning. One group did not get paid. Another participated in a lottery drawing every day for $3 or $100, but only if they met their goals. Moreover, they were paid each month, but only if they actually reached their weight loss goals. The final group invested some of their own money and only got it back if they met their weight loss goals. In other words, the prize was right in front of them the entire time. While the other groups lost weight, the group required to deposit their own money lost a significant amount more than the other two.

In the long term, after the cash incentive was removed, some of the dieters gained back the weight they had lost. This could mean that cash rewards only work for short term results. But for those dedicated dieters who are serious about weight loss, it could kick start their plan and help them to develop healthy long term habits for long term results.

1. Volpp, K.G. Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec. 10, 2008; vol 300: pp 2631-2637.

2. Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD, director of the center for health incentives, Leonard Davis Center for Health Economics, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; and core faculty for health equity research and promotion, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

3. Martin Binks, PhD, director of behavioral health and research director, Duke Diet and Fitness Center, Durham, N.C.

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