A stack of dollar bills or a quarter pounder with cheese—which sounds more appealing? It might depend on how hungry you are, but some companies are betting that enough bills in the stack can tip your vote, regardless of how badly you want to stuff your face.
Paying employees to lose weight is an increasing trend among companies. Through incentives, dis-incentives (you stand to actually lose money if you fail to meet your goal), and contests, businesses are working to jump-start the motivation for their employees to get fit.
Will it work? Maybe.
The hope is that incentivized diets will be as effective as workplace anti-tobacco campaigns. But critics point out that tobacco isn't required to live, and food is much more complicated: not only is it a daily necessity, but eating right is weighed down by confusing food labels and an onslaught of tempting ads and convenient processed foods.
If incentives don't work, regulatory measures, like soda taxes, might do the trick. Monetary penalties tend to motivate people more than monetary incentives, and a tax would make the choice one not only of health, but of cost.
While criticized for being Big Brotherly, food taxes could prove to be more effective changemakers than dollars-for-diets programs, encouraging longer-lasting new habits than fleeting cash incentives could.
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