Findings uncover that social gamification + competition increases physical activity among overweight and obese adults—both key components of HealthyWage.com’s monetary reward-driven wellness contests for individuals and corporate/team-based weight loss challenges
By Merilee Kern, MBA
According to new study findings published by JAMA Internal Medicine (JAMANetwork.com), behavioral economics-based gamification led to “significantly” increased physical activity among overweight and obese Americans. In this particular study, pairing a step tracking device with social incentives led to sustained, long-term behavior change—prompting participants to take more steps then with a step tracking device, alone.
While the report explains that “gamification, the use of game design elements in nongame contexts, is increasingly being used in workplace wellness programs and digital health applications,” it further underscores that “the best way to design social incentives in gamification interventions has not been well examined,” which is what makes this study particularly noteworthy. It determined that “gamification interventions significantly increased physical activity during the 24-week intervention,” with competition being the “most effective.”
That’s something the founders of HealthyWage—the world’s leading purveyor of financially-induced wellness contests for individuals and corporate/team-based weight loss challenges—has seen play out since launching its weight-loss gamification platform in 2009. HealthyWage is, in fact, founded on earlier substantive research and “double-incentivization” methodology that proves competition and rewards—especially the cash variety—can as much as triple the effectiveness of weight loss programs.
As case-in-point, view a few notable HealthyWager success stories (both female and male) here, including Tessa Easterling who lost 87 lbs. and won a whopping $5,610.00 for her efforts; and Cody Smith who lost 75 lbs. and won $2,040.00 for his own slimdown success. Further exemplifying the power and efficacy of its offerings, HealthyWage recently revealed notable milestones that included the company’s membership in 2018 base grew more than a staggering 300% over the year prior, with more than 900,000 current program participants (approximately 20% business/corporate and 80% individual participants).
“Beyond the new findings reported this month, other studies show that monetary incentives serve to enhance the effectiveness of, and duly complement, weight-loss programs of any and all sorts, especially when paid out quickly like our various programs,” said HealthyWage co-founder David Roddenberry. “The average HealthyWager participant more than doubles their investment if they are successful at achieving their goal. The financial upside potential is impressive.”
“Loss Aversion is a powerful dynamic and the reality of having ‘skin in the game’ can propel the results of a gamified weight loss initiative,” notes Roddenberry. “Indeed, a key element for the success of a gamification program is giving participants something to lose if they fail to meet their goal—whether tangible or intangible. In this particular study, it was just points at stake but even this effected behavior change. There are actually throngs of studies demonstrated that the threat of losing something of value is much more effective than the opportunity to win something of equal value. That’s precisely why we advocate that program participants ‘pay to play’ and make an investment out of their own pocket in order to win rewards—in our case large cash prizes—for losing weight and getting more active in the program.”
HealthyWage programs apply these principles:
- HealthyWager Challenge: participants commit to a weight loss goal and an upfront financial payment and get their money back plus a financial return if they accomplish their weight loss goal. The average participant loses 40.7 pounds and gets paid $1,245.
- HealthyWage Step Challenge: participants commit money and agree to increase their steps by 25% over 60-days. If they achieve their goal they get their money back plus the money from those who don’t hit their goal.
Upholding the new findings while also further validating HealthyWage’s well-honed approach, an additional study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine continue to prove that money is an effective motivator to “increase both the magnitude and duration of weight loss.” The same hold true in business for staff wellness initiatives. Results from one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicated that “Loss Incentive’ Motivates Employees to Take More Steps,” finding that financial incentives framed as a loss were most effective for achieving physical activity goals.
As a prolific corporate and group wellness purveyor, since 2009 HealthyWage has worked with an array of hi-caliber participants on workplace and staff wellness initiatives, including Old Dominion Freight, ConocoPhillips, and more than 25% of the largest school districts in the country. HealthyWage has, in fact, formally created competitive, cash-fueled programs for more than 700 Fortune 500 and other public and private companies, hospitals, health systems, insurers, school systems, municipal governments and other organizations throughout the U.S., and their program has been more informally run at more than 3,000 companies and organizations seeking to bolster staff health and well-being, and boost bottom lines in kind.
As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist. As a wellness industry veteran and health advocate, she’s also author of the award-winning, illustrated fictional children’s book, “Making Healthy Choices – A Story to Inspire Fit, Weight-Wise Kids” (Amazon). Merilee spotlights noteworthy industry innovators, change makers, movers and shakers: experts, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com / Instagram www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews / Twitter www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor / Facebook www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern