Money talks when it comes to kicking bad habits

By: Olga Michail Email
By: Olga Michail Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- Doctors say 70 percent of Americans are overweight and even clinically obese. A new year-long weight loss study by Mayo Clinic found that people who had a cash incentive to lose weight were more likely to stick with a program and shed more pounds.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester offered a 20 dollar incentive to its 100 employees who are considered overweight. They ran it like an office pool. If someone meets their goal for the month they get that 20 bucks, and if they don't, they lost 20 dollars. And it looks like here in Eau Claire willpower can be bought too.

“Yea it (money) would help. It would be a start,” said 47 year-old Duane Nauiokaitis.

“Money incentive, yea, could definitely help me to actually get myself to the gym and work harder,” said 18-year-old UW Eau Claire student Hannah Reed.

Study explains that when we are presented with immediate gratification, in this case- cash, or a direct consequence, that might not take place for many years; the individual will often choose "here and now.”

“I'm one that would like to see the results. Thinking about the future, I take it day by day, seeing results right away helps a lot more,” said Nauiokaitis.

“I think what individuals can take away from this is that we all have a self-control problem. And our brains in fact have a hard time focusing on distant consequences, such as the chance of getting diabetes a long way down the road, as compare to immediate gratification of say eating a donate or a cheeseburger,” said the author of the study M.D. Steven Driver.

“In Eau Claire area we're treating 250 patients right now with obesity,” said Dietitian with the Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Diane Dressel.

A problem that cannot be solved by financial incentive alone, the study says, but could add fun to the weight loss. And combined with healthy incentive and dieting could add that extra push that many of us desperately need.

“I think this is important because obesity is on the epidemic level in this country, as we know. And employers, insurers and individuals are all looking for ways to help. Our weight loss strategies right now are not working. Financial incentives might be one thing that could help us achieve our goals,” said Driver.

After the program was over the group that was offered the cash incentive on average lost around nine pounds, compare to the group who was not offered that incentive, lost on average around two pounds.

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