Article | Preventive Medicine | November 2012

Empirical Observations on Longer-term Use of Incentives for Weight Loss

by Leslie John, George Loewenstein and Kevin Volpp

Abstract

Behavioral economic-based interventions are emerging as powerful tools to help individuals accomplish their own goals, including weight loss. Deposit contract incentive systems give participants the opportunity to put their money down toward losing weight, which they forfeit if they fail to lose weight; lottery incentive systems enable participants to win money if they attain weight loss goals. In this paper, we pool data from two prior studies to examine a variety of issues that unpublished data from those studies allow us to address. First, examining data from the deposit contract treatments in greater depth, we investigate factors affecting deposit frequency and size and discuss possible ways of increasing deposits. Next, we compare the effectiveness of both deposit contract and lottery interventions as a function of participant demographic characteristics. These observations may help to guide the design of future, longer-term, behavioral economic-based interventions.

Keywords: weight loss; obesity; Behavioral economics; intervention; Personal Development and Career; Economic Growth; Contracts; Motivation and Incentives; Banks and Banking; Organizational Design; Strategic Planning;

Citation:

John, Leslie, George Loewenstein, and Kevin Volpp. "Empirical Observations on Longer-term Use of Incentives for Weight Loss." Preventive Medicine 55, Supplement 1 (November 2012): S68–S74.