Outcomes in a Program that Offers Financial Rewards for Weight Loss
Obesity rates in the U.S. have doubled since 1980. Given the medical, social, and financial costs of obesity, a large percentage of Americans are attempting to lose weight at any given time but the vast majority of weight loss attempts fail. Researchers continue to search for safe and effective methods of weight loss, and this paper examines one promising method - offering financial rewards for weight loss. This paper studies data on 2,407 employees in 17 worksites who participated in a year-long worksite health promotion program that offered financial rewards for weight loss. The intervention varied by employer, in some cases offering steady quarterly rewards for weight loss and in other cases requiring participants to post a bond that would be refunded at year's end conditional on achieving certain weight loss goals. Still others received no financial incentives at all and serve as a control group. We examine the basic patterns of enrollment, attrition, and weight loss in these three groups. Weight loss is modest. After one year, it averages 1.4 pounds for those paid steady quarterly rewards and 3.6 pounds for those who posted a refundable bond, under the assumption that dropouts experienced no weight loss. Year-end attrition is as high as 76.4%, far higher than that for interventions designed and implemented by researchers.
|Date of creation:||May 2009|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Outcomes in a Program that Offers Financial Rewards for Weight Loss , John Cawley, Joshua A. Price. in Economic Aspects of Obesity , Grossman and Mocan. 2011|
|Note:||HC HE LS|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2000.
"Choice and Procrastination,"
Department of Economics, Working Paper Series
qt5r26k54p, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Laibson, David I., 1997.
"Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting,"
4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981.
"An Economic Theory of Self-Control,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979.
"Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
7656, David K. Levine.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
- Nicholas Burger & John Lynham, 2010. "Betting on weight loss … and losing: personal gambles as commitment mechanisms," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(12), pages 1161-1166.
- John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
- Jody L. Sindelar, 2008. "Paying for performance: the power of incentives over habits," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(4), pages 449-451.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14987. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.