In Colorado, Make Money Losing Weight

A new initiative from Kaiser Permanente Colorado fights adult obesity by offering cash incentives.
Would you be more inclined to shed the pounds if there was money involved? (Photo: Getty Images)
Dec 27, 2011· 1 MIN READ
Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.

Living in the Centennial State? Instead of shelling out for one of those expensive diet plans to lose that unwanted winter weight, you can make some money instead.

The AP reported on Tuesday that Kaiser Permanente is now offering cash to Coloradans to slough off their extra pounds. One of the first public programs of its kind, participants in the "Weigh and Win" initiative can earn anywhere from $15 to $150 every three months if they keep the weight off.

While similar programs have been offered by companies to fight obesity with their own employees, Kaiser has taken the next logical step and invested $500,000 to extend the benefits to any adult living in the state. Eventually, the healthcare giant is hoping that the initiative will be taken on by cities and funded by the communities themselves.

But how exactly will all this weight loss be tracked? According to the report, 12 kiosks with scales will be installed in medical facilities, recreation centers, libraries, and even a furniture store for participants to record their progress. The kiosks will come equipped with a video camera to make sure no one offers up another person's waistline as their own or tampers with the scale.

With one third of the nation considered obese, creative solutions like this are needed to fight the ongoing battle of the bulge. Over the past 20 years, rates have almost doubled, with the majority of the increase found in the South and among the poor. (See this disturbing interactive from the CDC to get an idea of just how quickly things have changed). The only way we're ever going to reverse that trend is with a multi-pronged approach that makes a healthy lifestyle more accessible for working class Americans, and no single program—even one offering up cash incentives—is going to provide a magic bullet.

"It's not really a medical solution to obesity problems, the obesity epidemic," said Dr. Eric France, in charge of developing the program at Kaiser, to the AP. "It has to be a community solution. It's about access to good food, it's access to places to exercise, places to ride your bicycle, use transit, policies at school, policies at work and opportunities to have supportive programs to help you lose weight."