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Dieting for dollars

Dieting for dollars

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How much money would it take to get you to lose some serious weight?

Consider it, because at least a third of U.S. companies are offering financial incentives, or are planning to offer them, to get their employees to lose weight.

More than 2/3 of American adults are overweight and 1/3 obese. Fat plays a major role in role in diabetes, heart disease and other conditions. And for employers, it’s the bottom line they are looking at: obese workers cost private employers in the United States an estimated $45 billion.

The rewards that companies offer come in many forms. Some reward employees just for having a health evaluation. Others require that participants have measurable achievement. Still others offer perks, such as cash or trips. Many will refund the cost of health clubs or Weight Watchers classes. Reduced health insurance costs are another incentive.

But will it all work? Most studies are inconclusive, primarily because the sizes of the studies have been too small or not tracked properly. But a recent study by Cornell University looked at seven employer programs and found that the average weight loss in most was little more than a pound. Smaller experiments, though, report some success.

As Americans continue to battle the growing threat of obesity, more in-depth studies will be released on the success – or lack of success – of ‘dieting for dollars’.

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