The willpower in the money replacement program promotes weight loss.

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The willpower in the money replacement program promotes weight loss.

Sticking to a diet is a challenge for many, but starting next year, americans may have more economic power to control their weight. The new health care law includes a provision that allows employers of more than 50 employees to ask overweight workers not to pay more for insurance.

Some employers, inspired by the success of performances such as the biggest loser, have started to design a weight-loss program, using money to succeed where willpower fails.

Peggy Renzi and her colleagues at Bowie health center in Bowie, Mali, fought the weight war in the emergency room where they worked.

Nurses say most of their patients are overweight or obese. Mr. Renzi said they sometimes needed extra large stretchers or ambulances and extra nurses to carry all the extra aprons.

This is not just a problem for patients. The nurses used their weight to fight, and said they faced their own temptations. Ny maharason pointed to a long mesa.

“Sometimes in a class, the whole table is cake, cookies and chips, and when there is nothing, we feel that there is something missing in the world… That’s good, it’s very social, but the long-term effects are not very good, “said the nurse.

So last month, Renzi, Harrison, and three other colleagues took part in a national weight loss competition sponsored by HealthyWage. The company sponsors its own competition and works with employers to set similar challenges for its employees.

Over three months, the nurse hopes to lose at least 10 percent of her weight and win $10,000. Two weeks later, Divas – the nickname of their team – lost 26 pounds.

The team relies heavily on their mobile phones and social networking sites to track progress and keep in touch with each other. Harrison urged Divas to call for help when faced with temptation. She calls these “artificial failures” on the phone.

“It’s like a 911 call, no matter where we are – in the bed, asleep, in the work – all of a sudden the phone will be extinguished, everyone likes to ‘have a drink of water, drink some lemon, take the bottle away from her,'” she said.

Their path is not easy. Most weight-loss attempts fail.

Research shows that monetary rewards work for people who want to quit smoking or take illegal drugs, says John Cawley, an economist at Cornell university. But the food is different. People need to eat, and going back to their old eating habits is a lifelong problem. Research by Cawley shows that even if three-quarters of people are willing to spend a lot of money, they will give up their diet.

Employers and health insurers are experimenting with ways to build financial incentives – and curb them – to encourage weight loss.

King county, Washington, for example, that it saved $6 million in 2007 to 2007, in part, by the staff of about 2000 counties to provide rewards, reduce their weight at least 5%.

Cawley says the overall goal of boosting employees’ health is of great economic significance.

He said: “we all pay for these unhealthy behavior, thus to establish incentive plans to force people to consider when making these choices to their cost to society, it is actually meaningful.”

But the structure of incentives matters, he says. Cowley is concerned that some plans may produce perverse incentives to lose weight quickly and unsustainably. Taking money away may not be the best answer: Cawley’s work suggests that people are more likely to lose weight if they lose money.

Take Chester Demel. Peer pressure and encouragement did not help him stick to his diet. But hate? Hate incentives.

Last year, he promised to lose one pound a week on a website called StickK. If he fails, he agrees to pay $5 for a cause he doesn’t like. The choice of “anti-charity” crosses the political spectrum; He chose the national rifle association. When he thought of them, “my blood was boiling, I was really angry,” he said.

Instead of a doughnut, Demel began to hear the subject of Rocky. He liked to be a lean and hungry Loki balboa, who would climb his five-story apartment in New York City. He lost 45 pounds a year.

“The punitive thing is right for me,” Mr. Demeyer said.

Nurse harrison said money and punishment alone would not work for her or her teammates.

“I think that money is a bonus, but we do not worry about the money,” she said, “not because we have a lot of money, but because if we don’t have to win the challenge, we will still be in a really good place, so really have nothing to lose – apart from a few pounds. ”

In any case, there are other rewards that have nothing to do with rewards.

“I noticed that I spent more in the grocery store,” she said. “but I always told myself it was much cheaper than dialysis.”

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