Habit Formation, Obesity, and Cash Rewards

Augurzky B, Bauer T, Reichert A, Schmidt CM, Tauchmann H (2018)

Publication Language: English

Publication Type: Other publication type

Publication year: 2018

Series: FAU Discussion Papers in Economics No. 06-2018

Journal Issue: 750


This paper examines weight loss and the formation o
f healthy habits through cash rewards in the
context of a multi-phase randomized controlled tria
l involving 700 obese individuals. We find
effects of monetary incentives for weight loss of u
p to EUR 300 on body weight during all
experimental phases, including a period of a year a
nd a half following the exposure to the financial
rewards. We also find effects on healthy behavior d
uring this follow-up phase. After the initial
incentive period, we additionally provided participa
nts who had lost a substantial amount of
weight with monetary rewards of up to EUR 500. Thes
e had only short-term effects on body
weight and healthy behavior. We argue that our find
ings are best explained by monetarily
incentivized participants having formed healthy hab
its 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 pr
esented in earlier empirical research on habit
formation, our results suggest that a simple progra
m relying on weight loss rewards can result in long-term health behavioral change

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How to cite


Augurzky, B., Bauer, T., Reichert, A., Schmidt, C.M., & Tauchmann, H. (2018). Habit Formation, Obesity, and Cash Rewards.


Augurzky, Boris, et al. Habit Formation, Obesity, and Cash Rewards. 2018.

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