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Study: We’ll lose weight for dough

Trying to hit the gym and shed that winter insulation? With bikini season just around the corner, weight loss seems to be—once again—the water-cooler topic du jour. And for employers and health insurers both, that’s good news.

Encouraging workers to get a little competitive on the elliptical by offering them cash incentives may be the best way to help them lose pounds—and to slow companies’ spiraling health care costs.

That’s what researchers from Michigan and Pennsylvania discovered when they implemented a dollars-for-dieters program among the medical staff at Philadelphia’s Children’s Hospital.

Each participant was given a monthly weight-loss goal, based on his or her body-mass index, and assigned to one of two cohorts.

Members of the “individual incentive” cohort were eligible to win 100 dollars for every month that they hit their goal; if they fell short, the hospital simply kept the money.

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