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Well at Work

Cash Helps Employees Trim Their Waistlines

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The most powerful feature of any successful office weight loss challenge isn’t emotional support, but rather financial incentives, according to a new study in the Journal of Health Economics.

When researchers studied nearly 3,000 participants in an employer-sponsored program, they found that the best results for weight loss were sparked by regular payment of refundable participation fees. The payments seem to work as a reinforcement for people to continue to lose weight.

These deposits weren't only more effective at inducing weight loss, but they also made it less likely for the company to lose money. When they refunded employees some of what they paid into the program, the mission had been accomplished: employees had improved their health. If the employees didn't lose weight, the company kept the money employees paid into the program.

As of 2012, 94 percent of large employers (those with 200 or more employees) in the U.S. offer wellness programs, and among those offering health benefits, 65 percent offer weight loss programs in particular, according to a 2012 study.

If this incentive isn’t part of your office wellness challenge, speak up and suggest the change.

Tags: Health, Weight Loss, Work