Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 7, 2013

Cash, not calories key in losing weight

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — "I was impressed. I didn't think I was quite capable of that," said Traun, who lives in Kellogg, Minn. As the study went on, though, the cash became less important, and "it was actually more motivating to see my progress — pounds lost and how my clothes were fitting," she said.

Traun used the nearly $400 she earned in the study on a family vacation.

In England, there was big enthusiasm a few years back for campaigns using cash or gift certificates to convince people to make healthier choices, like getting vaccinated, quitting smoking and losing weight. But after a few limited trials, the programs have mostly petered out. The most successful were those that offered pregnant women vouchers if they stopped smoking; several of those programs are still in place.

"You have to prove these schemes work otherwise it's just money down the drain," said Eleni Mantzari, who studies financial incentives in health at King's College London. People often revert to unhealthy habits once the financial motivation is gone, she said.

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