The cash was a big motivator for one study participant _ Audrey Traun, 29, a lab training specialist who dropped 40 pounds, from 215 pounds to 175.
“I was impressed. I didn’t think I was quite capable of that,” said Traun, who lives in Kellogg, Minn. As the study went on, though, the cash became less important, and “it was actually more motivating to see my progress _ pounds lost and how my clothes were fitting,” she said.
Traun used the nearly $400 she earned in the study on a family vacation.
In England, there was big enthusiasm a few years back for campaigns using cash or gift certificates to convince people to make healthier choices, like getting vaccinated, quitting smoking and losing weight. But after a few limited trials, the programs have mostly petered out. The most successful were those that offered pregnant women vouchers if they stopped smoking; several of those programs are still in place.
“You have to prove these schemes work otherwise it’s just money down the drain,” said Eleni Mantzari, who studies financial incentives in health at King’s College London. People often revert to unhealthy habits once the financial motivation is gone, she said.
AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report.
Health incentives research: http://chibe.upenn.edu/
Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP
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