Internal Medicine

Financial incentives lead to more weight loss in low-income patients with obesity

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Outcome-based and goal-directed financial incentives were both effective strategies for encouraging clinically significant weight loss in low-income populations with obesity when compared to the strategy of only providing resources, according to a study.

In this randomized clinical trial, 668 adults with obesity living in low-income neighborhoods were randomly assigned to goal-directed incentives, outcome-based incentives, or a resources-only group.

Participants in the resources-only group, were given:
-A 1-year commercial weight-loss program membership
-Self-monitoring tools
-Health education
-Monthly one-on-one check-in visits

Participants in the goal-directed group, were given:
-Linked financial incentives to evidence-based weight-loss behaviors

Participants in the incentive groups could earn up to $750.

After 6 months, 22.1% in the resources-only group, 39% in the goal-directed group, and 49.1% in the outcome-based incentive group had lost at least 5% of their baseline weight. There was a similar mean percentage of weight loss between the incentive arms.

In the goal-directed group and the outcome-based group, mean earned incentives were $440.44 and $303.56, respectively.

Ladapo JA, Orstad SL, Wali S, et al. Effectiveness of Goal-Directed and Outcome-Based Financial Incentives for Weight Loss in Primary Care Patients With Obesity Living in Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Neighborhoods: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med.  2022. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.5618