What does it take to get you to do things you don’t want to do, but really know you should?
I’m talking about everything here – from waking up on time, to saving more money, to losing weight… motivation is the key; do you use carrots or sticks?
Why Do You Ask?
Interestingly, I came across a novel idea from Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates (actually, a city in the emirate of Dubai as well) to help motivate its citizens to lose weight.
Dubai (for the uninitiated) is a very rich country in a very hot area of the world – bordering the Persian Gulf. Western influences (read: Food) combined with increasing wealth has given Dubai a familiar first world problem – too many overweight people.
However, unlike the Food Pyramid and all sorts of conflicting advice pushed on America, Dubai is taking a different tack to try to get their citizens to move more and eat less – they are literally paying people to lose weight.
That’s right, Dubai will pay citizens $45 worth of gold (or one gram, so this exchange rate will move) for every kilogram they lose (2.2 lbs).
Would You Do It?
For various reasons, your humble author doesn’t have much optional weight to lose… but for $45 for every 2.2 lbs (and a $5000 bonus possible at the end!) I would certainly log my results and push a bit harder if I did!
Still, it begs the question… is it a good idea?
Consider two problems:
- Dubai reportedly has a population where 45% of people are overweight. If you were one of the 55%, how would you feel about a bit of wealth being redistributed to your overweight compatriots? Truthfully, the most successful of the set would join the fit because of the program, but what about people who just gain the weight back after collecting gold?
- $45 for 2.2 lbs… hmm, let’s do the math on this. A pound is roughly 3,500 calories, and you burn somewhere between 1,400 and 3,200 calories a day if you’re close to normal. It’s conceptually possible to arbitrage the prize a bit – there is a risk that some people would strategically bulk up to inflate their loss and pocket a bigger reward.
Do You Think It Will Work?
Do you think this scheme will end up working out, regardless of problems? I’m actually going to be watching pretty closely and see how this plays.
Still, this is an example of a government using incentives to improve public health. I want to hear your strategies for motivation. Hit up the comments below!