Thursday, December 18, 2008

Money Can Motivate a Person to Lose Weight

Changing behavior is an important element in many endeavors, especially weight loss. No matter what weight loss method is adopted, some behavioral change is necessary. In an obesity drug regime, an individual must take the medication. After bariatric surgery, there are certain lifestyle changes a patient must make to maximize weight loss -- including the adherence to a special diet. And where the weight loss method consists only of lifestyle modification, changing behavior is of the utmost importance. Now, research has shown that using money as a reward can induce a person to make behavioral changes that are conducive to weight loss.

In a study done at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, study subjects were told how much money they would receive if they lost weight, and how much money they would be deprived of if they didn’t lose weight. One of the researchers, Dr. Kevin Volpp, indicated that most weight loss programs emphasize the future benefits of losing weight. However, there is no immediate reward for losing the weight. Giving money after weight loss is an immediate reward.

Immediate payment as an immediate reward is a form of immediate gratification. And immediate gratification is something that most of us have become accustomed to in today's society. So, using immediate gratification may actually be a good way to motivate a person to make changes in behavior that are conducive to losing weight.

The researchers indicated that offering the immediate payment only worked for short term weight loss. And when the money-reward was removed, the weight began to come back. So more research is needed to determine how using money, or some other incentive, may be utilized as part of a long term weight loss program.

More study may also help experts determine exactly what is triggered, by money, that motivates a person to lose weight. Substitutes may then be devised to obtain the same kind of behavioral change seen when money is the motivator. Specific counseling methods, and environmental and psychological cues may be developed to sustain weight loss behavioral modification.

Therefore, the results of the research could enable bariatric or weight loss centers to improve techniques that motivate changes in behavior. If insight into changing behavior is derived from the research, this insight could enable a bariatric or weight loss center to help a client more effectively lose weight.

Indeed, bariatric or weight loss centers should take a hard look at the counseling and behavioral change methods they are now using. The centers may want to emphasize the methods that really work, and make using these methods a more important part of their weight loss programs.
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