Empirical Observations on Longer-Term Use of Incentives for Weight Loss
Leslie K. John
Harvard Business School
Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences
University of Pennsylvania
January 24, 2012
Preventative Medicine, Forthcoming
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 In this paper, we pool data from two prior studies to examine a variety of issues that unpublished data from those studies allow us to address.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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: weight loss, behavioral economics, randomized controlled trial, obesity
JEL Classification: I19, C91, I00
Date posted: February 11, 2012
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