Money talks when it comes to weight loss, studies find

    A growing body of research says financial incentives work to spur weight loss.

    The latest study comes from the Mayo Clinic where researchers found that those who received financial incentives were more likely to stick with a weight-loss program and lost more weight than study participants who didn’t get any money.

    The findings were recently presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 62nd annual scientific session.

    Different factors drive behavior change in different people — and cash can certainly be persuasive, said Gary Foster of Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research.

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    “What’s one more tool in the tool box, and if this helps one subset of the population who struggles with excess weight — all the better,” Foster said.

    He says “cash for pounds” could well become a popular approach to fighting obesity.

    “You could say it’s crazy to pay people to lose weight,” he said. “On the other hand, you could say that if it provides some incentive for people to change their behavior, then it actually could be quite cost effective for large employer groups or insurance companies.”

    The growing research on financial incentives in weight loss has already created a new business model. One business getting in on the idea is HealthyWage, an online company where people sign up to compete for prizes tied to weight loss.

    “The nice thing about a cash incentive is that it takes that amorphous concept of our health, and makes it tangible,” explained Dave Roddenberry, company founder. “You know that if you have lost the weight and you won the money, you can use the money.”

    Weight loss experts say 65 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese.

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