I stumbled upon a news story about insurance company, Kaiser Permanente, paying adults to lose weight and was a bit surprised at the tactic. As the story goes:
Participants in the “Weigh and Win” program earn anywhere from $15 to $150 every three months to lose weight and keep it off.
Paying people to lose weight? Hm.
Is this the right answer?
There’s no question that America has a bit of “weight problem”. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just over one-third of adults are obese. And, this trend is not slowing down. A look at the interactive chart on the previous link shows how it is almost epidemic in proportions.
For years, insurers have sought to curtail obesity by offering benefits like discounted gym memberships, healthy eating programs and online education. But, they don’t seem to be working.
The next step? Cash.
In our capitalistic society, we’ll almost do anything for a buck or two. But, will it be enough to pay us to shed the fat? And, is it right?
Why paying people to better health doesn’t work
Now, I’m no medical doctor nor do I play one on tv – but I think there are some things that money cannot provide motivation for. And what I’m talking about more specifically here is – behavior change.
Changing behavior is a challenging thing. I know – as I’ve tried! Typically most of my behavior changes have originated from a life changing episode. And, even then, it’s been trying to maintain those changes.
I believe obesity is a very complex issue with many moving parts. Many factors could contribute to someone being obese – including – an addiction to food, a mental and/or physical issue, and childhood trauma. While many may be obese because they don’t exercise or eat too much – just telling them to start exercising and eating less – won’t necessarily solve the main issue.
They pay them on Biggest Loser to lose weight
This is true. And, it seems to work.. until the end of the show. While many who participate in the Biggest Loser are probably highly motivated by the large prize money to succeed, the money seems to be an after-thought as they progress into the show. And, some who are eliminated early on the show sometimes fend better than those who have won the Biggest Loser title and the money.
What do you think?
I don’t think we can pay people to lose weight. Just as I don’t think we can pay people to stop listening to loud music. There’s got to be a better solution.
What are your thoughts?