“The Biggest Loser” television show is living proof that money helps people lose weight. However, most people don’t have the opportunity to make $250,000 to encourage them in their weight loss program. Leslie John and colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University found that small-scale financial incentives help people lose weight, too.
Test subjects deposited their own money in an account, which was matched by the researchers. The results were compared with a control group that received no financial incentives. People in the financial incentive group lost an average of nearly 9 pounds in 32 weeks, compared to slightly over 1 pound in the control group. Unfortunately, people quickly regained the lost weight after the experiment was over. (Journal of General Internal Medicine, published online February 2011)