09/02/2011 04:47 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Is Weight Loss Easier When Money's At Stake?

It's always a good idea to have an incentive in mind if you're trying to lose weight - something that motivates you to keep going when all you can think about is that packet of chocolate biscuits lurking at the back of your kitchen cupboard.

pound-coins-money-incentive-to-lose-weight Money is a great incentive to lose weight - especially if it's your own. Photo: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Well according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, one thing that motivates people particularly well where weight loss is concerned is money.

Now is it just us, or is that not much of a surprise?

The researchers, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, carried out an experiment to find out exactly how well money acts as an incentive to shed pounds. But instead of paying people for each pound they lost, the researchers signed some of them up to a contract whereby they would lose a sum of their own money if they didn't lose weight.

And lo and behold, the study participants who stood to lose cash lost an average of 9lb over eight months - whereas those who didn't agree to hand over any money only lost 1lb.

Great idea, you may be thinking. But the problem was that nine months after the study had ended, the participants who had lost all that weight had gained most of it back - which further reinforces the idea that money is an effective weight-loss incentive, as the moment the threat of losing it disappeared, the volunteers went back to their old eating habits.

So should health experts recruit overweight people to long-term weight-loss programmes whereby they would have to pay if they don't lose weight - and maintain it?

Who in their right mind would sign up to something like that, we wonder?

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