Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/178224
Authors: 
Augurzky, Boris
Bauer, Thomas K.
Reichert, Arndt R.
Schmidt, Christoph M.
Tauchmann, Harald
Year of Publication: 
2018
Series/Report no.: 
FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 06/2018
Abstract: 
This paper examines weight loss and the formation of healthy habits through cash rewards in the context of a multi-phase randomized controlled trial involving 700 obese individuals. We find effects of monetary incentives for weight loss of up to EUR 300 on body weight during all experimental phases, including a period of a year and a half following the exposure to the financial rewards. We also find effects on healthy behavior during this follow-up phase. After the initial incentive period, we additionally provided participants who had lost a substantial amount of weight with monetary rewards of up to EUR 500. These had only short-term effects on body weight and healthy behavior. We argue that our findings are best explained by monetarily incentivized participants having formed healthy habits by the time the experiment ended and that only the speed of the transition to the new (health) equilibrium was affected by the additional rewards. Contrary to the pessimistic perspective presented in earlier empirical research on habit formation, our results suggest that a simple program relying on weight loss rewards can result in long-term health behavioral change.
Subjects: 
field experiment
obesity
healthy behavior
habit formation
sustainability
monetary incentives
JEL: 
I12
I18
D03
C93
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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