More intensive and personalized strategies may be needed for weight loss

Modest weight loss can lead to meaningful risk reduction in adults with obesity. Although both behavioral economic incentives and environmental change strategies have shown promise for initial weight loss, to date their efficacy alone or in combination have not been compared.

doctor and patient seated at a desk with a medical chart, smartphone, bowl of vegetables, hand weights and measuring tape.

In a two-year randomized clinical trial, researchers investigated whether financial incentives and environmental change strategies, together or separately, help employed adults with obesity lose weight and keep it off. Of note, the strategies tested in this study did not include any individual counseling sessions or classes. While participants across all study groups lost a modest amount of weight, study participants felt they would have benefitted more from intensive guidance such as on-going counseling and coaching. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“In our trial, incentives and environmental strategies led to modest but nonsignificant improvements in weight loss,” explains Karen Glanz, the George A. Weiss University Professor and professor of nursing at Penn’s School of Nursing. Glanz is the lead author of the article. “From a translational standpoint, benefits designs could consider incorporating ongoing financial incentives for weight loss among employees with obesity, while linking online support to more intensive personalized approaches.”

Read more at Penn Nursing News.