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ACC: Financial Incentives Enhance Sustained Weight Loss

ACC: Financial Incentives Enhance Sustained Weight Loss

Improve weight loss at one year together with education with, without behavior modification

FRIDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Financial incentives can enhance sustained weight loss, according to a study to be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, held from March 9 to 11 in San Francisco.

Steven L. Driver, M.D., M.P.H., and Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., examined the sustainability of weight loss through education, behavior modification, and a financial incentive scheme in a group of 100 healthy adults aged 18 to 63 years with a body mass index of 30 to 39.9 kg/m². Participants were randomized to education (Live it!, with or without financial incentives) or to education plus structured behavioral modification (Lose it!, with or without financial incentives). Participants who met their goals received $20 per month, while those who failed to meet their goals had to pay a $20 penalty.

The researchers observed higher participation rates for those in the financial incentive groups, and participants in these groups lost more weight than controls. There was a significant difference in the completion rate for those in the incentive (62 percent) versus non-incentive (26 percent) groups. Mean weight loss at one year was 9.08 and 2.34 pounds in the combined incentive group and combined non-incentive group, respectively. The estimated effect of incentives was significant, at 6.5 pounds lost. The estimated effect of Lose it! was 2.36 pounds, which was not significant.

"Because of the high prevalence of obesity and the overall lack of effective treatment, people need to look at creative interventions to help people lose and maintain weight," Driver said in a statement. "Financial incentives may be one way to help with this."

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