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Ann Intern Med. 2013 Apr 2;158(7):505-14. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-158-7-201304020-00002.

Individual- versus group-based financial incentives for weight loss: a randomized, controlled trial.

Author information

  • 1Veterans Affairs Center forClinical Management Research, Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor HealthcareSystem, Ann Arbor, MI 48113-0170, USA. jkullgre@med.umich.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Data on the effectiveness of employer-sponsored financial incentives for employee weight loss are limited.

OBJECTIVE:

To test the effectiveness of 2 financial incentive designs for promoting weight loss among obese employees.

DESIGN:

Randomized, controlled trial. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01208350)

SETTING:

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

PARTICIPANTS:

105 employees with a body mass index between 30 and 40 kg/m2.

INTERVENTION:

24 weeks of monthly weigh-ins (control group; n = 35); individual incentive, designed as $100 per person per month for meeting or exceeding weight-loss goals (n = 35); and group incentive, designed as $500 per month split among participants within groups of 5 who met or exceeded weight-loss goals (n = 35).

MEASUREMENTS:

Weight loss after 24 weeks (primary outcome) and 36 weeks and changes in behavioral mediators of weight loss (secondary outcomes).

RESULTS:

Group-incentive participants lost more weight than control participants (mean between-group difference, 4.4 kg [95% CI, 2.0 to 6.7 kg]; P < 0.001) and individual-incentive participants (mean between-group difference, 3.2 kg [CI, 0.9 to 5.5 kg]; P = 0.008). Twelve weeks after incentives ended and after adjustment for 3-group comparisons, group-incentive participants maintained greater weight loss than control group participants (mean between-group difference, 2.9 kg [CI, 0.5 to 5.3 kg]; P = 0.016) but not greater than individual-incentive participants (mean between-group difference, 2.7 kg [CI, 0.4 to 5.0 kg]; P = 0.024).

LIMITATION:

Single employer and short follow-up.

CONCLUSION:

A group-based financial incentive was more effective than an individual incentive and monthly weigh-ins at promoting weight loss among obese employees at 24 weeks.

PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE:

National Institute on Aging.

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