An interesting tidbit from the NY Times:
Behavior: Money Not a Motivator in Losing Weight
Researchers studied 2,407 overweight and obese people enrolled in weight-loss schemes at their jobs. Participants were divided into three groups. The first received $60 for keeping a 5 percent weight loss for a year. The second agreed to pay about $100; the money would be returned if they lost 5 percent of their weight, and they would get bonuses for losing more. The third, a control group, was offered only $20, a reward for staying in the program for a year.The article points out that the study had some limitations that make it far from conclusive. First of all, the amounts of money in the study were quite small, probably not enough to seriously motivate anyone. But it's not exactly practical to try studying the effect of a million dollar bonus for dieting! Also, I believe there have been other studies that have shown that when you pay people to achieve something, it doesn't always help encourage that behavior-- it's as if it obscures the fact that the goal is worth striving for on its own merits.
The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that money had very little effect. The group that was offered $60 lost an average of just 1.4 pounds, while the controls lost 1.8. Those who made the $100 deposit dropped an average of 1.9 pounds more than the controls, but, the authors write, people motivated enough to risk their own money would most likely have lost weight with any program.
But it's an interesting question-- losing weight is a very difficult thing for many people to do. I'd like to think I would have the discipline to achieve a goal like weight loss, or quitting smoking, etc. in order to win a large sum of money, but who knows, maybe I'd blow it! How about you? What amount of money would motivate you to stick with a diet and exercise plan and lose weight?