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Cash Rewards for Weight Loss

A recent study has revealed that by giving away rewards to the participants entering a weight loss program, one can increase both the duration and magnitude of weight loss. This can be achieved with a low cost strategy with apt use of rewards. The study has been published in a journal called ‘Social Science and Medicine’. The research was led by a team of Duke-NUS medical school. Thus, the study provides an efficient cost effective strategy to improve population health.

Connecting with this theory, Dr. Eric Finkelstein used inputs from behavioral economics and developed a rewards based program and implied it among overweight and obese adults.  161 participants paid $234 to take a 16 week long weight loss program. They were instructed and encouraged to lose at least 5% fat from their body. The same participants paid 165$ extra to be part of the rewards program. Under the program, participants were promised 10 times the cash they had paid and additional rewards for meeting weight loss goals and losing 5-8% body fat. The rewards arm saw almost twice the weight loss by participants at the end of the 4th month. For the successive months that followed, the rewards arm saw better results in terms of weight loss and overall body fat loss.


Rewards arm- Average 3.3 kg, 40% fat loss in total

Control arm- Average 1.8 Kg, 12% fat loss in total

The stats clearly reveal the value of rewards to increase weight loss.


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