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UT Arlington researcher finds that money motivates employees to lose weight
Date:8/14/2013

Financial incentives can be a very effective tool in encouraging employees to lose weight at companies that offer their workers those types of programs, research from a University of Texas at Arlington economics assistant professor shows.

Joshua Price, a UT Arlington assistant professor of economics, teamed with Cornell University Professor John Cawley to perform a case study on an employer-sponsored program that offered financial incentives for weight loss.

The study was accepted for publication in The Journal of Health Economics and was featured recently on its website. It is scheduled be published in that journal's magazine in September. The purpose of the study was to examine a real-world intervention for weight loss, Price said.

"We examined how effective different weight loss programs are to business," Price said. "We discovered that the best results for weight loss were through a more regular payment of refundable participation fees. The payments seem to work as a reinforcement for people to continue to lose weight."

Price and Cawley were given access to outcomes of 2,635 workers at one company. Under an agreement with the business, the researchers cannot reveal the company's name.

"Overall, we found modest weight loss in the program that offers financial incentives for weight loss," Price said. "We wanted to show the effectiveness of the different types of payment structures offered in this intervention."

Price said the research studied four weight-loss options the company provided in its wellness package to employees.

Option one was the control group. Participants signed up and participated in weigh-ins but there was no financial component to the intervention.

Option two allowed employees to join a weight loss program for free and paid the financial incentives for losing weight once per quarter.

Option three required employees to pay to join the weight loss program. This option then paid employees a refundable
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Contact: Herb Booth
hbooth@uta.edu
817-272-7075
University of Texas at Arlington
Source:Eurekalert

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