Money motivates weight loss -- one step at a time - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Money motivates weight loss -- one step at a time

Updated: May 8, 2013 09:59 AM EDT
&copy Creatas / Thinkstock © Creatas / Thinkstock
  • What's Going AroundMore>>

  • What's Going Around - April 16th

    What's Going Around - April 16th

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:16 AM EDT2014-04-16 15:16:33 GMT
    Sinus infections are going around this week. Nurse Practitioner Christy Johnson from Bay Medical-Sacred Heart Family Medicine says, "A sinus infection is inflammation or swelling of your sinuses. WhenMore >>
    A sinus infection can make a person feel miserable. More >>
  • Jessica Foster

    Jessica Foster

    Jessica Foster is originally from Atlanta, Georgia and has worked at WMBB since 2004. She is excited to bring the news to you each weekday on News13 This Morning. Jessica produces 3 medical segments weekly- What's Going Around, Modern Medicine and Mayo Clinic reports.More >>

WEDNESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- When a health insurer told obese people they could either pay 20 percent more for coverage or start exercising, most of them decided to get active, according to a new study.

More than 6,500 obese people insured by Blue Care Network enrolled in a pedometer-based program to obtain insurance discounts, and the majority met their fitness goals, researchers found.

"Wellness interventions like this clearly hold significant promise for encouraging physical activity among adults who are obese," said senior author Dr. Caroline Richardson, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Health System and Stanford University.

After one year, nearly 97 percent of participants in the walking program had met or exceeded the average goal of 5,000 steps a day. This included people who disagreed with the financial incentives and said the program was "coercive."

For some families, the out-of-pocket cost of failing to meet the insurer's fitness requirements was nearly $2,000 more a year. People with medical conditions were exempt if they had a waiver from a doctor, according to the study, which was published May 8 in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine.

Obesity is linked to serious health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, which contribute to high medical and insurance costs in the United States.

Richardson said insurers are likely to offer more of these incentive programs in the future.

"There are ethical debates around the idea of forcing someone to be personally responsible for health care costs related to not exercising, but we expect to see more of these approaches to financially motivate healthier behaviors," Richardson said in a university news release.

"Our evaluation of Blue Care's incentivized program showed a surprisingly high rate of people who enrolled in the Internet-mediated walking program and stuck with it -- even among those who were initially hostile to the idea," Richardson said.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.

Health News Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.