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Group-Based Weight Loss Incentives Are More Effective

Program of individual-based rewards falls short at weigh-ins over a 24-week period

TUESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Group-based financial incentives for weight loss are more effective than individual incentives, according to a study published online April 1 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Jeffrey T. Kullgren, M.D., M.P.H., from the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan, and colleagues randomized 105 employees of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with a body mass index between 30 and 40 kg/m2 to either an individual incentive ($100 per person per month for meeting or exceeding weight-loss goals (n = 35) or a group incentive ($500 per month split among participants within groups of five who met or exceeded weight-loss goals (n = 35). Participants were weighed monthly for 24 weeks.

The researchers found that group incentive participants lost significantly more weight than control participants (mean between-group difference, 4.4 kg versus individual incentive participants mean between-group difference, 3.2 kg). Group incentive participants maintained greater weight loss than control group participants 12 weeks after incentives ended (mean between-group difference, 2.9 kg; P = 0.016) but did not maintain significantly greater weight loss than individual incentive participants (mean between-group difference, 2.7 kg P = 0.024).

"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," the authors write.

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