NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire -04/10/12)- Despite recent efforts by Weight Watchers® and other pound-shedding purveyors to bring more men into the dieting fold -- even resorting to dressing NBA legend-turned-diet spokesperson Charles Barkley in drag to convince men it's possible to "lose like a man" in one recent male-focused marketing campaign*, men still account for less than 15% of participants in commercial weight-loss programs. Findings from a new, first-of-its-kind study reveal why this disparity exists, underscoring the critical, often absent, component of tapping into the male psyche -- namely proving that men respond overwhelmingly well to weight loss programs employing a competition-fueled, cash prize-based approach. HealthyWage™ (www.HealthyWage.com), the only company that pays Americans to lose weight regardless of which diet and/or fitness program they choose to follow (Jenny Craig®, Nutrisystem®, Atkins®, or any other formal or informal diet/fitness regimen), today announced results from a collaborative study uncovering that, while weight loss wagering is an extraordinarily successful way to motivate both genders to lose weight (proffering an overall 49% and 29% success rate for a respective 5%+ and 10%+ body weight loss), men are more than four times more likely than women to win a weight loss "bet." In the study, fully 63% of male participants in a weight loss "betting" program realized success, losing 10% or more of their body weight, versus 15% of women achieving this same notable measure of weight loss. Gimmicks and cross-dressing need not apply.
The ground-breaking study found remarkable success for men involved in a weight loss "bet" and is the first to verify that men and women lose weight differently. In brief, employees at a top-tier Fortune 50 (fifty) company were given the opportunity to make a weight loss wager -- to ante up $100 to win $400 if they lost a significant 10% of their starting body weight within six months. The result was stunningly widespread weight loss among participants -- particularly men. Of the total participants, 63% of the male subjects won the "bet" and were paid $400; 15% of female subjects also won the $400; consequently, more than a quarter -- 29% -- of all program participants in total won the bet and the cash. Notably, nearly half -- 49% -- of all program participants reported losing at least 5% of their starting weight.
"While it's no surprise that men respond to competitive, game-like scenarios, this innate quality is now proven to be particularly favorable and advantageous in competitive, prize-driven weight loss endeavors," said HealthyWage co-founder David Roddenberry. "These study findings validate that weight loss wagering programs like our '10% Challenge' are not only highly rewarding for both genders both physically and financially, they're also especially effective for men since such efforts tap into the male drive for competition and a desire to win.
"While companies are increasingly offering weight management solutions to their employees to save on health care costs, all too often women comprise the majority of weight loss program participants," Roddenberry notes. "Not surprising, since most of these programs do not have a 'betting' or other competitive or cash prize component. As such, hundreds of large U.S. employers are wisely supplementing current efforts with HealthyWage's plug-and-play programs to better engage the men in their staff pool and uniquely motivate both genders to improve their health and wellness."
The study put to the test other academic research findings and industry initiatives that have proven behavioral economic-based interventions are extremely powerful tools for helping both men and women accomplish behaviors that are in their self-interest but which, due to self-control problems, they have difficulty accomplishing. The same decision errors that often result in self-destructive behavior can be used instead to help people engage in beneficial behaviors, such as weight loss. In fact, other recent research has shown that weight loss incentives "supercharge" weight loss interventions, with one widely-cited study revealing that participants in a weight intervention program who were given a financial incentive were three times more likely to achieve a defined weight loss goal than a control group that did not receive a financial incentive.
John Cawley, an economist at Cornell University who studies the economics of obesity, commented on the findings, "I'm excited to see what companies are doing to find win-win solutions in which individuals can achieve their weight loss goals and health care costs can be reduced. The results from the HealthyWage weight loss bet illustrate how economic incentives can be used to promote healthy behaviors. The gender differences they find raise the interesting question of how to tailor these sorts of incentives to what works best for different groups."
"We have more than 40 of the Fortune 500 as clients, including Office Depot, Huntsman, and Sonic Automotive," Roddenberry concludes. "In addition to this recent research, other of our direct-to-consumer data illustrates the same trend -- that men are more successful in the weight loss betting programs. For instance, more than 65% of the winners in our 'Matchup' team contests are men even though more women join the program."
Male study participant David M. underscores the motivation boost a cash incentive can provide, having noted, "I already had a goal of losing at least 10% of my weight. Having the HealthyWage program was an extra boost. I think the cash prize did have an impact. More so, it helped me achieve my goal within a time period. I was more likely to stick to my fitness regimen knowing that the weigh-out period was just around the corner." Female participant Carol F. also cites the power of the financial wager, commenting, "When I was really struggling to get a jump start, I thought in terms of the $400. For example, was that piece of cake worth $400? If it wasn't, then I didn't eat it. Once I was on a roll and feeling really good and seeing success, the money became less important. I told everyone that, no matter how it turned out, it was the best $100 I had ever spent." For male participant Curtis H., his success was all about the money, having stated, "The cash prize totally incented me to stay on track with losing weight."
The study is important in light of the health incentives trend, including the recent health care bill Affordable Care Act (Section 2705), stipulating that, starting in 2014, employers can use measures such as BMI, to adjust health insurance premiums based on outcome-based wellness incentives by up to 30% -- up from the current 20% level. In addition, Arizona recently proposed charging obese residents on Medicaid $50 as a financial penalty for being overweight. The proposition is currently under review with similar consideration being given in other states.
Health and wellness purveyor HealthyWage provides cash incentives, social and expert-based support, tools and resources, and goal-setting and tracking technologies to address our nation's obesity epidemic and improve America's collective health. The company was founded in response to academic research that proves even small cash rewards triple the effectiveness of weight-loss programs; that people are more effective at losing weight when their own money is at risk; and that social networks play a large role in the spread of obesity, and will likely play a large role in reversing obesity. Learn more online at www.HealthyWage.com.
Note to Editors: Individual and corporate contestants, health club participants (weigh-in locations), and/or a HealthyWage company executive available for interview.