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Company program motivated employees, children to lead healthier lifestyles

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Would a cash incentive motivate you to live a healthier lifestyle? It did for tens of thousands of IBM employees, who were paid $150 to participate in their company's 12-week health-promotion program. As reported by HealthDay News, a study of the Children's Health Rebate found that more than 50 percent of the employees who chose to participate in the program completed it, and:

Those that finished it reported increased physical activity, reduced time spent on electronic entertainment and more healthy family meals.

The study found that family physical activity done more than three times per week went up 17.1 percentage points during the program, while eating healthy dinners five or more times a week went up by 11.8 percentage points. Among children [of employees], spending less than an hour a day in front of the TV or doing video games went up 8.3 percentage points, according to the study.

The study appears online in the journal Pediatrics, and senior author Dee Edington, PhD, doesn't sound surprised about the findings:

"I think this program was likely successful because once these activities were pointed out to the employees, they probably felt like it was a no-brainer. They could make their families healthier and receive the incentive," said... Edington, director of the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center in Ann Arbor.

Photo by Ernst Vikne

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