Strange poll results for policymakers to chew on

Many of the healthcare polls bouncing around Washington on any given week can potentially give federal policymakers the pulse of the nation on policy matters under consideration. But also buried in these polls are sometimes head-scratching questions and findings.

The latest example came from a telephone health survey of 1,000 Americans released this week by Reader's Digest and the insurer Humana.

The poll included the unintentionally shocking finding that one in five (21%) respondents would rather lose 10 pounds than have an extra $5,000. Of course, the shocking finding for the survey's authors was that nearly four out of five people would prefer their money to their life, as an accompanying report framed it. Of course, $5,000 is a whole lot of money to most people, whereas 10 pounds is rarely a tipping point between health and illness.

Other shock findings from the survey included the choice of one in eight Americans (12%) to pass on $10,000 in favor of losing 10 pounds and the preference of 9% of Americans for losing 10 pounds rather than gaining $15,000.

Less surprisingly, as the money amounts shrank, more Americans favored losing the weight. For instance, two in five Americans (39%) say they'd rather be 10 pounds lighter than $1,000 richer, according to the survey.

The survey questions about weight and money are intended to generally echo some employer initiatives to incentivize healthy choices by employees, according to a spokesman for the survey authors.

However, it was unclear how an incentive program could offer workers a choice between losing 10 pounds and gaining $5,000. Now, if employers offered the cash in exchange for the weight loss, their poll numbers could take off.

Follow Rich Daly on Twitter @MHRDaly.



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