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Fall 2014

Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.


The Scale Says Green

Researcher finds that offering employees financial incentives to encourage weight loss can yield successful results 


Wellness packages that incentivize weight loss can help workers shed pounds.

Losing weight is hard, but receiving a cash reward for shedding pounds can make the task a whole lot easier to swallow.

That’s the conclusion Joshua Price, assistant professor of economics, reached in his recent study for The Journal of Health Economics. He and co-writer John Cawley, a professor at Cornell University, found that financial incentives can be a very useful tool for companies that offer wellness packages for their employees.

“We examined how effective different weight-loss programs are to businesses,” Dr. Price says. “The best results were those that had a more regular payment of refundable participation fees. The payments seem to work as reinforcement for people to continue to lose weight.”

Price and Dr. Cawley were given access to the outcomes of 2,635 workers at a company. They studied four weight-loss options provided in its wellness package to employees. Option one allowed employees to join a weight-loss program for free and paid them at the end of the year if they lost weight. Option two required employees to pay to join the weight-loss program, then paid a refundable bond or rebate at the end of the year based on how much weight they lost. Option three was similar to option two, except that the funds were given every quarter. And option four was the control group, with no financial component.

The researchers found that individuals who were asked to put up their own money, either with a deposit contract or refundable participation fee, experienced more weight loss than those in the control group.

“In option two, we also discovered that the large incentives to lose weight at the end of the year created unintended consequences, like employees using unhealthy weight-loss methods before the last weigh-in,” Price says.

Rachel Croson, dean of the College of Business, says Price’s work makes useful recommendations based on behavioral economics.

“Finding creative ways to improve our health is increasingly important as we continue to struggle with health care costs,” she says. “With this research, we can identify which types of financial incentives work best. When employees lose weight, both they and their employers win.”

More articles from this issue

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