Starr Lynch lost nearly 30 pounds thanks to peer pressure from fellow nurses. "What was really neat was my co-workers watched it coming off -- which was exciting," Lynch said.
She and other employees at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia took part in a study about how much weight people can lose when offered money as a reward. Those in the study lost three times as much weight when awards were based on the group's performance, not just their own.
"No question, hands down the individuals in the group incentive did much better. They lost about 10 pounds -- little more than ten pounds on average," said Dr. David Asch with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Researchers looked at two strategies. Some individuals were offered $100 each month they met or exceeded weight loss goals. Other groups split $500 among five people. Those who did not lose the weight had to give their share of the money to those who did.
"If you didn't lose the weight and everyone else did you would have this sort of unhappy circumstance of watching everyone else share the winnings you could have earned," Dr. Asch said.
Many companies are offering workers cash incentives to get healthy. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers will soon be able to offer even larger financial rewards to promote a healthy lifestyle.
It's been a year since Lynch took part in the program. She's gained 15 pounds back but is making better choices. She earned more than a thousand dollars while on the weight loss program.
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