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Incentives for lifestyle changes

Two-thirds of us are overweight, resulting in increased risk of illnesses. The list of obesity-related illnesses – heart disease, cancer, stroke, reproductive disorders and gallbladder disease – continues to grow as researchers probe further into the link between lifestyle and illness. Obesity in children is also increasing, with a concomitant rise in adolescent diabetes.

As health care costs associated with obesity climb, providers of medical insurance are experimenting with incentives to promote health. Incentives can include pedometers, movie tickets, exercise equipment, vacation packages and frequent flier miles.

West-coast based Pacific Care Health System and Illinois’ Destiny Health are pioneering the effort. The incentives appear to be working. Eighty-percent of Destiny’s members have started an exercise or nutrition program.



Big insurers, such as CIGNA and Aetna recently rolled out similar initiatives. Check your health plan. Healthy habits may earn you some freebies.

Source: Prevention Magazine, November 2004


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