Millions of overweight and obese people all over the world have tried and tried to lose weight, but with no success. Will paying them to shed fat give them the extra motivation to adopt a healthier lifestyle? The overweight mayor of the Italian town of Varallo thinks so, and he's put the community on a "group diet" with monetary rewards:
- For men—Lose 4 kg (8.8 lb.) in a month and get 50 euros (US$68)
- For women—Lose 3 kg (6.6 lb.) in a month and get 50 euros (US$68)
- For both—Maintain the weight loss for five months, and get 200 euros (US$272)
Meanwhile, in the United States—where $1 of every $6 spent is on healthcare—employers and health insurance companies are using both carrots and sticks to get workers to slim down. In Benton County, Ark., county employees' insurance deductibles can be reduced from $2,500 to $500 if they meet low height-to-weight ratios. Employees at the hospital chain Clarian Health Partners will be "fined" up to $60 a month if they can't meet weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure standards.
It seems odd that people might be more motivated by money than by a desire to be healthier, but with healthcare costs for obesity rising, governments, insurance companies, and employers are increasingly willing to try almost anything to get people to shape up.