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Dollars for Pounds

Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss at 2:37 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
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If you had a childhood, you’ve probably heard, “I’ll eat that for a dollar,” at least once in your life. Money is a powerful motivator. It can get many individuals to close their eyes, open their mouths and slide almost anything down their throats. Just look at Fear Factor. Since its debut, the show has convinced hundreds of people that they want to ingest cockroaches, animal parts and worms. It has used the possibility of cash to incite eating. Now, what about doing the reverse?

Researchers in North Carolina conducted a study in which 207 overweight people attempted to lose weight. The participants were separated into three groups. The first group received no incentive. The second was offered seven dollars for every percentage of body fat lost. The third group was offered 14 dollars. Not surprisingly, group three took the lead, losing an average of 4.7 pounds per person in three months. The group’s participants were also five times more likely to lose five percent of their body weight.  What does this mean? It means that as easily as cash gets us to open our mouths, it convinces us to close them too. But, should we really be excited by that?

What does it say about our society that we need money to convince us to lose weight? Are we more concerned with financial gain than health? Shouldn’t the possibility of a longer, more energized life be all the incentive we need? I would hope so, but evidently not. And that’s kind of sad. Now, I’m not saying that people – companies shouldn’t implement this method, particularly if it works. Obesity is an epidemic that should be addressed and fought. If money is going to do that, then do it. But, we have to be careful. Money for pounds could send the wrong message. It could lead to unhealthy weight loss methods, bounce-back diets and eventually, a defeat of the goal, which is health. Eradicating obesity is a part of promoting a healthy life. It’s a part of decreasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer.  It’s meant to help people lead active lives. That should be our goal: a fuller life, not a fuller wallet.

 4 Comments, latest by Mary


4 Responses to “Dollars for Pounds”

  1. Howie says:

    Well put! Kind of like TV’s the Biggest Looser. They offer a nice fat (pun intended) check for that one too!

  2. Jim says:

    I agree. I suppose cash incentives to get started would be OK if you also provided health counseling to keep the individual on track.

  3. Fred J. says:

    I think the insurance companies should offer us substantial incentives to maintain healthy life styles, it would save them money in the end… why not pass it on to the customer? Win-Win!

  4. Mary says:

    Maybe being paid gave the participants a sense of self worth not felt by the control groups and thus supported them in their efforts to lose weight. Money has symbolic as well as financial value.

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