Empirical Observations on Longer-Term Use of Incentives for Weight Loss

Preventative Medicine, Forthcoming

26 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2012  

Leslie K. John

Harvard Business School

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Kevin Volpp

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: January 24, 2012

Abstract

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 In this paper, we pool data from two prior studies to examine a variety of issues that unpublished data from those studies allow us to address.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.

Keywords: weight loss, behavioral economics, randomized controlled trial, obesity

JEL Classification: I19, C91, I00

Suggested Citation

John, Leslie K. and Loewenstein, George and Volpp, Kevin, Empirical Observations on Longer-Term Use of Incentives for Weight Loss (January 24, 2012). Preventative Medicine, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2002790

Leslie K. John (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

George F. Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-8787 (Phone)
412-268-6938 (Fax)

Kevin Volpp

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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