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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU Review Finds Financial Incentives Can Help Change Diets, But Not For Long

Financial incentives for people to eat healthier can be effective in the short term, but behavior change was not maintained where long-term follow up was reported, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Researchers reviewed 12 studies published between 2006 and 2012, of which 11 found a positive correlation between incentives and short-term dietary behavior change.



[Photo:Dr. Jason Q. Purnell]

The analysis found that incentives such as higher taxes on products such as sugar-sweetened beverages would have more impact in middle-income households; subsidies for healthy behavior, such as vouchers for fruit and vegetable purchases, have more impact in low-income households.

But the lack of long-term effectiveness of any of the incentives studies means “additional research is needed to develop alternative approaches that can address this limitation,” wrote Dr. Jason Q. Purnell, assistant professor at the Brown School and the lead author of the study.

The study was published on-line May 16 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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