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Lower Health Insurance Premiums Encourage Obese People to Exercise

Posted Jun 17 2013 10:07pm
Posted on June 14, 2013, 6 a.m. in Weight and Obesity Exercise

A health insurance scheme to encourage obese people to get active has been hailed as a success. Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and Stanford University studied a group of obese people who signed up to an incentivized health insurance program to evaluate its effectiveness. Participants in the scheme had the choice of paying 20% more for their health insurance or exercising more. 6,548 people who enrolled onto the scheme chose to walk at least 5,000 steps each day or 450,000 steps a quarter in order to keep on qualifying for the discounted insurance. After one year, results showed that nearly 97% had met or exceeded their target of 5,000 steps each day. The researchers were very surprised at the high rate of compliance, especially since one-third of participants were originally highly resistant to the scheme, disagreeing with the financial incentives and calling the program “coercive”. Lead author Donna Zulman, M.D. concluded: "Our findings suggest that incentivized wellness programs are acceptable to many individuals and that these programs encourage healthy behaviors."

Donna M Zulman, Laura J Damschroder, Ryan G Smith, Paul J Resnick, Ananda Sen, Erin L Krupka, Caroline R Richardson. Implementation and evaluation of an incentivized Internet-mediated walking program for obese adults. Translational Behavioral Medicine. 2013 May. [Epub ahead of print]

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Tip #176 - A Toast to Health
A number of studies suggest that light alcohol consumption may help to promote extended good health:

Researchers from the University of California/Los Angeles (UCLA; California, USA) analyzed data from 4.276 men and women, ages 50+, enrolled in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey’s Epidemiologic Follow-Up Study. After a five-year follow-up period, healthy moderate drinkers were at a 17.7% chance of becoming disabled or dying within 5 years, as compared with 26.7% for those who did not drink at all, and 21.4% for heavy drinkers. In addition, healthy older study subjects who drank moderately also experienced a 3 to 8% reduction in the odds of developing a disability with each additional drink per week (up to 9 drinks for women, 15 for men). A team from the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (California, USA) assessed data collected on 12,519 men and women, ages 55-plus, participating in the Health and Retirement Study. The team followed the subjects for 4 years and found that moderate alcohol consumption, defined as one alcoholic drink a day, was associated with a 28% reduction in the risk of death (as compared to the subjects who did not imbibe).

Wageningen University (The Netherlands) researchers studied 1,373 Danish men and found that a half-glass of wine a day increased life expectancy by five years. In the study, the majority of the wine consumed was red wine.

If you choose to drink, have only a limited (or moderate) amount. This means • No more than 1 drink a day for women
• No more than 2 drinks a day for men
Where one drink is a:
• Bottle of beer (12 ounces)
• Glass of wine (5 ounces)
• Shot of liquor (1.5 ounces)

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