Money Talks: Financial Rewards Help Your Lose More Weight

Pennie McCoy

CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Dietitian

Mar 22, 2022

It’s the first week of your new diet and you’re doing everything right – cooking healthy meals, sticking to an exercise routine and avoiding those usual junk food temptations.  

Fast forward a few weeks and you feel yourself pressing the snooze button when it’s time to go to the gym and reach for takeaway instead of cooking. Generally, just giving in to that urge to slink back to tempting old habits.   

Sound familiar?  

Thanks to new research from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, we no longer have to succumb to this all too-familiar-fate.  

CSIRO has found what it takes to stay motivated, and in turn, lose more weight.  

The research revealed that personal accountability, coupled with financial rewards, is a key motivator for achieving weight loss.  

Back in 2015, the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet introduced a refund reward equal to the cost of the program ($199) for people who complete the 12-week program and follow the science-based criteria. 

Weight loss
Andres Ayrton at Pexels

The criteria includes weekly weigh-ins, uploading a photo to track progress, and using a food diary at least three times per week – behavioural changes which are all shown to support long-term weight loss. The best part? They are incremental changes, meaning a lifestyle overhaul isn’t necessary when it comes to looking and feeling great! 

The study (of over 48,000 CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet members) uncovered that those members who claimed the financial incentive offered by the program achieved 28% greater weight loss than those who didn’t.  

Those who claimed the reward not only got $199 back in their wallet but also achieved a 6.7% drop in their starting body weight (6.2kg).  Those who didn’t claim the reward saw a 5.2% drop (4.8kg) – a difference of 1.4kgs. 

CSIRO Total Wellbeing Dietitian Pennie McCoy said “Finding motivation to lose weight can be tough at the best of times – so it’s not surprising that many Aussies have put their health on the backburner after a particularly rough few months! 

“We’re thrilled to have the evidence and framework to help boost motivation – and funds – for Australians so they can make their health a priority in these trying times and beyond.”  

Running at Pexels

Top tips for staying motivated when losing weight: 

Alongside following a program that is backed by evidence and offers a financial reward, having realistic expectations and tapping into support are among the many tips and tricks at your disposal to cope when motivation plummets, says Pennie:  

  1. Don’t go it alone – making dietary and exercise changes and maintaining them is always easier in company. Enlist the support of those you live with to share the journey so there’s no need for separate meals and tempting treats can be kept out of the house. Friends, co-workers, or other family members can also be a source of inspiration – so, don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Another great motivating force is the internet. Forums like those on the Total Wellbeing Diet allow you to join in discussions, share recipes and generally encourage each other. 
  2. Set realistic expectations – weight loss takes time, but with the right tools and support, realistic goals can be achieved. Find out what a realistic target is for your weight loss journey and be flexible to adjust your expectations as you go. 
  3. Personalise your motivation – tie your motivation to improving your diet, exercise, or weight to something that you love and makes you feel good. For example, reward yourself for losing 1kg with a massage or a manicure.  
  4. Aim for improvement, not perfection – improving your diet will make a dramatic difference to your weight and health but aiming for perfection is a recipe for failure. Unrealistic expectations of dietary perfection can lead to feelings of stress, frustration, and guilt – all things that derail motivation. Step back from the need to be perfect by anticipating setbacks, allowing yourself occasional indulgences, and most of all forgiving yourself if you slip up.  


By Pennie McCoy

CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Dietitian

Pennie McCoy is CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Dietitian with over 15 years of experience in a range of settings including hospital dietetics, research as well as corporate nutrition. She is passionate about empowering people to make healthier choices to meet their health and nutrition goals. She has been a media spokesperson for the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet and Digital Wellness with recent appearances on Sunrise, Today and A Current Affair.



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