Overweight or obesity is a contributing factor for a number of chronic diseases. Effective weight-loss programs or interventions are needed to address the obesity epidemic.

Losing body weight and bringing it down to a healthy range may be the biggest wish for people with obesity, but it is not easy to achieve that goal. Shedding those extra kilos is hard, as well as keeping yourself motivated on your weight loss journey. You would probably work harder if there were cash rewards for cutting those extra inches. Weight-loss programs with financial incentives work better those offering stand-alone free tools, such as diet books, and wearable fitness trackers, according to a new study.

The study publishing in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that obese people lost more weight if they were paid cash for losing a specific amount of their body weight or completing weight-reducing activities.

The study included 668 participants, mostly Hispanic men and women whose average weight was 218 pounds at the start of the study. Some of them were offered on average $440 in total for losing at least 5 per cent of their original body weight (about 10 pounds). All participants were followed for up to a year. Almost 50 per cent of the participants who were offered cash achieved the target in six months. However, the number dropped to just 41 per cent after a full year of follow-up.

Similar results were found for other incentives like paying an average of $303 to meet certain weight-loss goals. Nearly of the study participants who were offered this amount lost 5 per cent of their starting weight after six months, and almost 42 per cent of them lost the minimum amount of weight after 12 months.

However, only one in five of those who received zero financial incentives lost the minimum weight after six months. The number, though, grew to almost a third after a year.

All study participants were offered free tools a free one-year voucher for the Weight Watchers program, wearable fitness devices (Fitbits), digital scales, and food journals during the study.

The benefits of offering incentives for weight loss

The study proves that offering incentives, especially cash rewards, helps people struggling with obesity to lose weight. But any kind of incentive to lose weight, even just offering the tools, can work, noted study senior investigator Melanie Jay, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health.

Jay also mentioned that further research is needed if any periodic “booster” incentives would be needed to sustain the weight loss in the long term.

The expert suggested that goal-focused financial rewards may last longer than others in the long run.

Obesity which is referred to as having a body mass index (BMI) above 30 is a rising problem worldwide. More than 40 per cent of American adults are estimated to be obese. Being overweight or obese is a contributing factor for a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Hence, expert worldwide have been highlighting the need for interventions to address the persistent obesity epidemic. Home 

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