New Study: Cash + Peer Pressure = Weight-Loss Success

by Amanda MacMillan


CN Digital StudioCN Digital Studio It's obvious that people who are offered money for losing weight will fare better than those who aren't. (Hello, Jessica Simpson!) But a study just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that cash incentives for weight loss are even more successful when awards are based on an entire group's performance, rather than an every-man-for-himself-style competition. See, guys? There's no "i" in team.

University of Michigan researchers found that group-based financial incentives, like those that may be offered to employees if together they can lose a certain number of pounds, led to nearly three times more weight loss than cash awards based on individuals' weight loss alone.

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"Approaches such as 'The Biggest Loser' have received popular attention as ways to harness group dynamics to encourage weight loss," say the authors, "but the 'winner-takes-all' nature could be discouraging for everyone but the most successful person." A group teamwork strategy, on the other hand, leads to group encouragement and better accountability. (Well duh, we knew that part.)

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This is big news, say the researchers, since starting next year the Affordable Care Act will make it possible for employers to promote more health-related initiatives with financial encouragement. But we think you don't have to wait until then to use this bit of science to your advantage, guys! Instead, start your own weight-loss group competition among friends by splitting yourselves into two groups. Losers buy the winners (and by winners I mean biggest losers, and yes, this is confusing) each a massage or a delicious healthy dinner. I know I'd work extra hard to reach my goal if I knew my best buds were counting on me -- and if we'd be rewarded with a fun girl's night out, gratis.

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