Incentives for Losing Weight: How Do You Reward Yourself?

While the internal benefits, and yes aesthetic benefits of losing weight can be worth their weight in gold, establishing a reward system can also be beneficial to reinforce positive behavior change.  Studies show rewards that are personal in nature help you to stay motivated and create long-term habits.  Other studies have shown a link between financial incentives and weight loss.  Whatever it is that inspires you, utilizing incentives can make the path to weight loss a little more rewarding.   MyGoal #008 illustration - Picture-Money Sign

In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in April of 2013, Kullgren and his colleagues utilized a group-based and individual financial incentive system for weight loss.  In a group of 105 obese participants, each participant’s weight loss goal was 4 pounds every 4 weeks for a total of 24 weeks.  The difference between groups came in the distribution of financial resources.  Incentives included $100 for each participant who met or exceeded his/her weight loss goals.  However, while those in the individual group would receive the $100 for meeting or exceeding goals, those in the group structure would receive $500 if any of the 5 members met or exceeded weight loss goals – to be divided equally among all members who met or exceeded his/her goals.  

The results of this study indicate a group-based incentive is more effective than individual incentive among this particular trial with upfront and equal distribution of financial resources.  At the end of 24 weeks, the mean weight loss for those in the group incentive group was 4.8 kg, 1.7 kg for the individual incentive group, and 0.5 kg for the control group.

Would you be willing to join a weight loss challenge knowing you were more likely to succeed if you participated in a group?  Do you know what your motivation to lose weight is on an internal level?

You can create your own reward system but added accountability may just be the ticket.

Here are some additional ideas for rewards to use along your path to weight loss:

  • Movie tickets
  • Flowers
  • Something to add to the enjoyment of your home
  • A Saturday all to yourself
  • New music downloads
  • Weekend Getaway
  • Piece of jewelry

MyGoal #008 illustration -TeamworkOf course I recommend coming up with a list of your own that is meaningful to you, but hopefully these ideas trigger some of your own.  Think about getting your friends involved, because maybe, just maybe they’ll influence your weight loss in the right direction!  Whatever path you choose, I hope it’s as rewarding as it can possibly be.



Kane RL, Johnson PE, Town RJ, Butler, M. (2004).  A structured review of the effect of economic incentives on consumers’ preventive behavior.  American Journal of Preventive Medicine.  27(4): 327-352.

Kullgren, JT, Troxel AB, Loewenstein, G, Asch, DA, Norton LA, Wesby, L, Tao Y, Zhu, J, & Volpp, KG (2013).  Individual-Versus Group Based Financial Incentives for Weight Loss.  Annals of Internal Medicine, retrieved March 12, 2015 from