26 September 2023

CSIRO research finds money buys weight loss

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Personal accountability, coupled with financial rewards continue to be key motivators for South Australians trying to lose weight according to the latest Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) research.

In a statement, the CSIRO said the updated research came as statistics revealed that two in three Australian adults were currently overweight or obese with about 47 per cent living with related chronic health conditions.

“The recent analysis of more than 48,000 CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet members — more than triple the sample size from the original 2018 study — found that those who successfully claimed the financial incentive offered by the program achieved 28 per cent greater weight loss than those members who didn’t claim the financial incentive,” the CSIRO said.

Research Scientist at the CSIRO, Gilly Hendrie, who co-authored the Report, Member Refund Incentive: A secondary analysis of data from the Total Wellbeing Diet platform, said the research revealed evidence of how taking personal accountability by adopting self-monitoring behaviour would promote healthy weight loss.

“It’s encouraging to see the results of our study support other psychology and behavioural change research that self-accountability and financial incentives can have a meaningful impact on people’s weight loss success,” Dr Hendrie said.

“Breaking unhealthy habits that have developed over a long time can be hard and it is easy to lose motivation if you are not seeing immediate results on the scales,” she said.

Dr Hendrie said self-accountability activities like tracking weight and taking progress photos could be positive for members, especially when they see the physical changes from one week to the next.

“It can give them the drive to stay on track and continue to form the healthy habits which will help them achieve their health goals,” she said.

“The analysis also found that two-thirds of members who claimed the refund reward lost a clinically relevant amount of weight – more than five per cent of their starting body weight – compared to half of the non-rewarded members.”

Total Wellbeing Dietitian at CSIRO, Pennie McCoy said that since the financial incentive’s launch in 2015, the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet had given Australians $2.2 million in refund rewards, as well as improving their health.

Ms McCoy said the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet offered a financial reward equal to the cost of the program ($199) for people who completed the 12-week program and followed the science-based criteria to make behavioural changes which supported long-term weight loss.

The four-page Analysis Report can be accessed at this PS News link and further information on the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet at this link.

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