Basically converting this post into a catch-all about obesity to continue a discussion in the loathe thread.
This may be old news for some of you, but it's only recently come to my attention, and I really wanted to discuss it.
At the beginning of April, University of Michigan published a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study took 105 obese employees at a children's hospital and divided them up into two groups and tested two different financial incentive designs. They were followed for 24 weeks with monthly weigh ins, but in one group, participants would individually receive 100$ when they met or exceed the weight loss goals, while in the second group, participants were promised 500$ to be split amongst a group of 5 people.
[size=9]Extra link for those interested: U of Michigan's own page on the study[/size]
Reading this got me thinking. We know the US has a huge obesity problem, the numbers have positively exploded in the last 25 years, and the CDC estimates that 35% of the adult population is obese. This is a huge public health problem as obesity can lead to diabetes, obstructed arteries, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, asthma and arthritis.
However, from an ethical point of view, is this truly the best solution we can come up with? Financial incentive? I mean changing your eating habits is hard (sugary drinks, processed foods, the disappearance of formal meal time are prime suspects), but is this the best that we can come up with? I'm having a hard believing that this would actually be effective, but the numbers are there.
And as I was reading up on this matter, I remember that NY state is talking about outlawing large soda drinks. Is a ban really the only solution?
This may be incredibly naive of me, but I've always believed in informing patients of the risks and benefits of a behavior, and letting them take it from there.
So I guess my question is the following: what are your opinions on financial incentive as a weight loss method?
[size=9]And for the record, we're not talking about obesity as result of genetic diseases or other thyroid related syndromes, I'm talking about the obesity caused by our diets and sedentary lifestyles.[/size]
Edit: I've decided to go ahead and rename this thread to Obesity Catch All. The original concept was to discuss it from a public health, population-based point of view, but it's since encompassed the individual level as well. Carry on.