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Is Money the Ultimate Weight-Loss Motivator at Work?

Putting cash on the line helps employees shrink their waistlines, according to new research.

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Need a kick in the butt when it comes to weight loss? Your workplace may have just the motivation you’re looking for. New research from the University of Texas at Arlington suggests that financial incentives are effective in encouraging employees to lose weight—and that they have the potential to help a business’s bottom line, too.

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The study examined 2,635 workers across 24 work sites who took part in various money-based weight-loss programs, which ranged from initiatives that offered free enrollment and direct payments for weight loss, to paid programs with registration fees that were refunded after weight loss. Participants who lost the most weight were those who were refunded their participation fees via regular payments. The results also showed that individuals who were asked to dish out their own money to participate in a program experienced greater weight loss than those who did not have to pay.

What’s in it for your boss: By offering health-promotion programs, employers could save on insurance premiums, absenteeism, and even gain leverage to negotiate better health-care rates with carriers.

Companies offering such benefits are already ahead of the game. But if your office has yet to put a wellness program in place, it’s time to get creative. Place a bet with the guys at work, or suggest a Biggest Loser–style challenge among your cohorts. With your hard-earned money on the line, you’re bound to stay on track with your weight-loss efforts. Cutting down the big guy’s costs—well, that’s an added bonus. 

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