Let’s face it; if weight loss were easy, everyone would be thin, and diet products would not be a multi-billion dollar industry. With so many different temptations out there (fast food, social dinners, summer cookouts, Tostitos with a hint of lime) it is no wonder why obesity has become such a major health concern in America. So as we look for ways to achieve better weight loss results, I thought about incorporating a little economics into the equation (uh oh…). But I promise; we’ll keep it simple.
Economics is essentially the study of scarcity and deciding how we are going allocate different “scarce” resources (ie: money). Households and individuals (that don’t contain the surname Gates, Buffett, or Walton) have a limited supply of money and they must choose how best to allocate their limited supply, or what to spend it on. Therefore, much of economics is based on financial incentives. Individuals perform what is called cost-benefit analysis and look at what their financial cost is for a product and what their benefit is. If the benefit outweighs the cost, the transaction is made. Businesses will offer price incentives (sales) to decrease the consumer’s cost, while producing better products to increase the consumer’s benefit. Ok, I’ll leave it at that and try my best to incorporate weight loss into economics. Don’t x out of this screen yet, I think I was going to make a point somewhere. Here goes…
So in order to give yourself more incentive to lose weight, there needs to be something of importance (ie: money) that you risk if you are unable to lose weight. Try this: take out a contract on yourself. If you are unable to lose a certain amount of weight over a certain period of time, you lose the money (Give it to charity, friend, or family member). The fact is, people hate losing their own money, and Yale economist Barry Nalebuff brings light to this concept in his own personal weight loss endeavor Betting on Weight Loss. He entered a contract with his wife where she would actually pay him to lose weight each week. Some corporations have even incentivized their employees this way in order to decrease the company’s health care costs. Personally, I feel that having to pay out money if you don’t lose weight will be more effective than being paid if you do. The Legend Larry Bird once said, “I hate losing more than I like winning.” (He also hated normal length shorts- I miss the 80’s), but that’s neither here nor there.
So let’s say you are looking to lose 30lbs in 3 months. That is 10lbs per month. If you aren’t losing 2-3lbs per week, then you owe your friend $25 at the end of each week. As long as you reach your goals each week, you will save $300 at the end of 3 months. Oh, and you’ll also be 30lbs lighter! Losing weight is difficult, so let these simple economic incentives work to your benefit. Good luck!
Joseph Pepe, Jr. serves as the Director of Project Development for Planet Fitness. He oversees the Personal Training and Nutrition Department for 14 locations throughout CT. He is also the Managing Director for the Lose It! Weight Loss System (www.loseitweightloss.com). Joe received his B.A. in Economics from Wesleyan University. And since he’s our health and fitness guru, lets give him a plug as a athlete in his younger years as an All-NESCAC and Academic All-NESCAC Football Selection at Wesleyan. Go Cardinals!!