Could cash rewards boost weight loss?

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Experts say they could provide a low cost strategy to improve population health.

Using a payment/rewards programme may help to improve weight loss when combined with an evidence-based weight loss programme, according to the findings of a new study published in  Social Science and Medicine .

In the Incentives for Obesity (TRIO) trial, 161 overweight or obese individuals were randomised to either a control or reward arm of a four-month weight loss programme at the LIFE (Lifestyle Improvement and Fitness Enhancement) Centre at Singapore General Hospital. Those in the reward arm paid a fee of S$165.00 (€107) to access a programme that provided rewards of up to S$660 (€427) for meeting weight loss and physical activity goals.
Average weight loss was more than twice as great in the reward arm compared to the control arm at month 4 (3.4kg versus 1.4 kg). At months 8 and 12, weight loss remained greater in the reward group (3.3kg versus 1.8kg and 2.3kg versus 0.8kg, respectively).

“This study shows that the enhancement and maintenance of weight loss is feasible through a rewards programme with participant ownership, coupled with an evidence-based, medical weight loss programme,” said Dr Kwang Wei Tham, director of the LIFE Centre and senior consultant at the Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital.

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