Paid To Eat Fast Food: Study Participants Encouraged To Gain Weight

Getting paid to eat fast food might sound like a dream come true to some people, but for researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis it is a great opportunity to study why only some people who gain weight develop diabetes and hypertension.

The conduct the experiment, researchers paid people to add an extra 1,000-calorie meal each day for three months, ABC News reported. Samuel Klein, the lead researcher, said he wouldn’t have been able to get the same kind of results feeding pellets to mice in a lab, so instead turned to human guinea pigs willing to get paid to eat fast food.

“What you learn in rodents does not always translate to people,” Klein said. “What you learn on flies and worms won’t translate to people.”

Fast food is the perfect meal for the study because it comes in standard sizes and exactly how much people are eating can be carefully measured. Participants get to pick whether their extra meal comes from McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, or KFC.

“We know exactly the calories and macro-nutrient composition within fast food restaurants, so it’s a very inexpensive, easy and tasteful way to give people extra calories,” Klein said.

Just how much people get paid to eat fast food depends on how they hit their weight goals. Like a bizarro Weight Watchers, the study allows them to earn up to $3,500 for hitting their goals of gaining 5 to 6 percent of their body weight over six months.

But as Eater National pointed out, the study did at least encourage some healthy behavior. Participants made the most money when they were able to return to their original weight once it was completed.

Perhaps not surprisingly, an ad the hospital put out for participants willing to get paid to eat fast food got a lot of responses.


Dawn Freeman, a 50-year-old nurse who finished the program, said she packed 16 pounds onto her 170-pound frame and was paid $2,650 for her effort. She got $50 for losing her weight again through diet and exercise.

She said it was fun picking a Big Mac and large fries, ABC News noted.

“It was really good and you know the next night I went to Taco Bell and it was, it was wonderful,” she said. “This is after I have already eaten dinner.”

Would you agree to be paid to eat fast food?