By Merilee Kern
Recently released study findings published in the journal Social Science and Medicine prove, yet again, that money is an effective motivator to “increase both the magnitude and duration of weight loss.” Imperative dialogue given the prevalence of overweight and obesity has more than doubled in the past three decades, leading to rising rates of non-communicable diseases.
Notably, other synergistic academic research found that even small cash rewards triple the effectiveness of weight-loss programs (workplace-sanctioned and at home); that people are more effective at losing weight when their own money is at risk; and that social networks play a large role in the spread of obesity and will likely play a large role in its reversal; among other study-driven revelations about the “dieting-for-dollars” paradigm.
Science has consistently substantiated the approach. One related Mayo Clinic study found that ‘financial incentives can improve results, and improve compliance and adherence.’ Another study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (‘JAMA’) found those who have a financial incentive to lose weight were almost five times more likely to reach their target than dieters with no money at stake. In this study, it was further established that the ‘double-incentivization model’ is highly effective. In essence, you are more likely to succeed if both of these dynamics are at play: you stand to lose something if you fail and you stand to win something significant if you succeed.
These and other such findings are fueling a company called HealthyWage, which has become the world’s leading purveyor of cash reward-driven corporate and team-based weight loss challenges and diet contests for individuals at home. Given to the extent to which it bolsters their business model, surely they applaud this new study that looked at the incremental impact of a tandem incentive and weight loss program, finding that the incentive element not only increased the amount of weight loss but also the maintenance of that weight loss.
For its part, HealthyWage provides cash incentives, social and expert-based support, tools and resources, and goal-setting and tracking technologies to help foster participant success. Since pioneering the concept in 2009, today, HealthyWage is at the forefront of the weight wagering movement, reportedly having created competitive, cash-fueled programs for scores of Fortune 500 and other companies, hospitals, health systems, insurers, school systems, municipal governments and other organizations throughout the U.S., and their program has been more informally run at more than 3,000 companies and organizations.
So apparently effective is the pay-for-pounds paradigm in workplaces and homes across the U.S.—motivating healthy weight-loss through cash reward-driven gamification—an extraordinary number of individuals and teams have lost lbs. while bulking up their bank accounts with the service. Many HealthyWage participants have lost extreme amounts of weight exceeding 100 pounds, earning multiple thousands of dollars in the process. Overall, the company reports that more than 200,000 participants across the U.S. have collectively lost over 10 million pounds and earned over $5 million in cash prizes for their pound shedding success.
“This new study, and the myriad of others with similar findings, substantiate the efficacy of the financial rewards model that continues to fuel our own company’s efforts,” notes HealthyWage co-founder David Roddenberry. “It’s well-proven that financial incentives enhance weight loss success, making dieters significantly more likely than not to lose weight. Rather than counting on players to lose, we instead help dieters spur weight-loss from the start and, in doing so, overcome their short-term financial woes by utilizing ‘double-incentivization’ methodology. Here, participants make a wager upfront, ranging anywhere from $20 a month to as much as $500 a month, and commit to a specific amount of weight loss in a specific time frame. If the participant achieves their goal in the allotted time they’ll receive a cash prize payout. The average participant wagers $60/month for 9-months and roughly triples their investment if they are successful.”
Given the high payouts and propensity for success, it’s no surprise individuals, social groups and businesses (as well as entire school systems, cities, municipal governments, hospitals, health systems, insurers, and other organizations) are turning to companies like HealthyWage for innovative, outside-the-box, contest-driven weight loss programs to help health-seekers stay motivated while on a diet regime and actually profit from their success.
“Financial incentive-based approaches to motivate weight loss like ours is proven effective,” says HealthyWage co-founder Jimmy Fleming. “In fact, participants in our prior cash prize-fueled team contests have lost on average 5% of their body weight. This ‘money motivation’ approach is a fun and effective way to mobilize teams and individuals around health and wellness.”
Roddenberry exudes enthusiasm for the opportunity to pay people who achieve diet success, noting, “Our weight-loss wagering approach is helping Americans successfully lose weight, realize greater success with their diet and fitness endeavors and win financial rewards in kind. Everybody wins.”