Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #290

The Causal Link Between Financial Incentives and Weight Loss – An Evidence-based Survey of the Literature

by Alfredo Paloyo, Arndt R. Reichert, Holger Reinermann and Harald Tauchmann

RWI, 11/2011, 41 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-336-8



Obesity and overweight are linked to diseases that cost society a significant amount of resources. While behavior modification can reduce the problem, instigating such lifestyle changes is an uneasy task. One potential way to reduce the problem is through the use of financial incentives. In this survey, we review the available evidence with a significant emphasis on studies that yield credible estimates of the effect of financial incentives on weight loss. We find that the scientific literature on the subject has not yet satisfactorily settled whether such a mechanism is effective at eliciting the desired behavioral and health outcomes. We therefore advocate a rigorous large-scale randomized experiment to provide reliable estimates of the effect.

JEL-Classification: I10, I12, I13, I18

Keywords: Financial incentives; weight loss; obesity; randomized experiment; survey

Published as:

Paloyo, A., A. R. Reichert, H. Reinemann and H. Tauchmann (2014), The Causal Link between Financial Incentives and Weight Loss: An Evidence-Based Survey of the Literature. Journal of Economic Surveys 28 : 401-420. DOI: 10.1111/joes.12010