Paying People to Lose Weight and Stop Smoking

Paying People to Lose Weight and Stop Smoking

Kevin G. Volpp

Unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, poor diet, and sedentary lifestyles, account for as much as 40% of premature deaths in the U.S. Although behavioral interventions have the potential to improve health, behavior change is difficult, especially over the long term. Many people have difficulty changing health behaviors because it requires trade-offs between immediate consumption and delayed and often intangible health benefits. Incentives can provide people with immediate and tangible feedback that helps make it easier for them to do in the short term what is in their long-term best interest. This Issue Brief explores the use of financial incentives to motivate and sustain smoking cessation and weight loss.