A case study of a workplace wellness program that offers financial incentives for weight loss

Source: John Cawley, Joshua A. Price, Journal of Health Economics, Volume 32, Issue 5, September 2013
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From the abstract:
Employers are increasingly adopting workplace wellness programs designed to improve employee health and decrease employer costs associated with health insurance and job absenteeism. This paper examines the outcomes of 2635 workers across 24 worksites who were offered financial incentives for weight loss that took various forms, including fixed payments and forfeitable bonds.

We document extremely high attrition and modest weight loss associated with the financial incentives in this program, which contrasts with the better outcomes associated with pilot programs. We conclude by offering suggestions, motivated by behavioral economics, for increasing the effectiveness of financial incentives for weight loss.