Financial incentives may be an effective way to help people lose weight, according to this New York Times article: Dieting? Put Your Money Where Your Fat Is.
Most diet bettors agreed that while losing weight was the ultimate goal, winning the bet — and pocketing the winnings — soon became the main reason they stuck to their diets.
“I wanted to win, and I blew everyone away,” said Christopher Fallon, 36, a medical sales representative from West Orange, N.J. Mr. Fallon participated in a three-month diet bet with nine other colleagues, everyone contributing $100 to a winner-take-all pool. At a sales meeting a few weeks before the end of the bet, Mr. Fallon’s fellow bettors realized that he was way ahead.
“When I saw Chris at the gym at 6 a.m. looking skeletal, I knew it was over for me,” said one colleague, Carolyn Kramaritsch.
Mr. Fallon admitted that he enjoyed vanquishing his peers even more than losing the pounds. “I didn’t even need to lose much weight,” he said, “but when I saw everyone else, I thought, ‘I just won $900!’ ”
Sounds like a win-win situation... unless people start cheating with dangerous weight-loss drugs, just so they'll get the money!
But it seems to me that what would REALLY work well is exactly the opposite: let's say you could magically lose a pound for every $1,000 you put in a savings account. Something tells me a lot of Americans would suddenly have much bigger nest eggs!