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Cash Incentives, Penalties May Spur People to Shed More Pounds
Date:3/7/2013

pounds.

More study is needed to see how long these changes can last, Driver noted. "The real challenge is to extend this research, and see if we can develop a sustainable financial incentive model that lasts for longer than one year," he said.

Many employers are beginning to offer such programs to encourage healthier behaviors among employees, Driver added.

And this is a good thing, said study co-author Dr. Donald Hensrud, chair of preventive, occupational and aerospace medicine at Mayo Clinic. "We need to use creative strategies to help people eat less and exercise more, and do all of those things that they know they should be doing," he said.

One expert said the findings make sense.

"I don't find it surprising that even a really small financial incentive helps spur some weight loss," said Dr. Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness, in Washington, D.C.

The real question is how long these healthy habits will last, he pointed out.

"The challenge is how to help people lose weight in a way that is sustainable. This is more data that financial incentives and disincentives do play a role in what our behaviors are, but things like this are not likely to make a long-term impact on the obesity epidemic by themselves," Kahan said.

"We need to be thinking about a comprehensive approach that addresses much more than increasing initial motivation," he explained. "We need to maintain this motivation over time."

More information

Learn more about how to maintain a healthy weight at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Donald Hensrud, M.D., chair, preventive, occupational and aerospace medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; Steven Driver, M.D,, M.P.H., resident physician, internal medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; Scott Kahan, M.D., M.P.H., director, National
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