You Could Get Paid to Drop Weight

A military spouse works with a personal trainer on Fort Drum, New York.

Sound like a gimmick? It’s not.

Researchers in New York are looking for almost 300 military spouses to participate in a weight loss study and program starting in April. If you get chosen you could receive $400 over two years, not to mention the benefits of getting healthy.

There is a small catch: you have to live near the researchers. And while they hope to take the program nationwide eventually, right now to join you need be stationed at or near Natick, Massachusetts. That means the Coast Guard’s 1st District, For Devens, Hanscom Air Force Base or Natick Soldier System Center. They’re also planning to extend to Fort Drum, New York and Cape Cod (for the Coast Guard).

Get paid to drop weight? Yes -- if you become a part of a new research program for military families out of Tufts University.

Researchers want to study military families because keeping up a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge thanks to PCSing and stress, they said. If it works for military families, it might work for civilians too.

“The military lifestyle is very challenging for families, there is stress and frequent relocation for example, and dependents are often left alone while the warfighter is on active duty,” said Dr. Susan Roberts, a Tufts University researcher who is leading the study. “In addition to helping these important families in American life, we felt that they would be a valuable population to do research on as well, because if we can identify what really works in this diverse and challenged group, it will be widely applicable to the rest of America.”

The program, which will last two years, has two options. In one participants use provided menus and exercise. In the other they use portion control and exercise with flexible eating choices. In both they will participate in a weekly group meeting for about an hour for the first 16 weeks. After that the meeting frequency decreases to every other week and then every month, Roberts said.

“Some groups will meet in person, others will do videoconferencing. And then at 6 month intervals we have the participants complete some questionnaires, and come to the military base to measure their weight, get a blood sample,” she said.

There are a few requirements for joining the program. First of all — you’ve got to be overweight. For these researchers that means a BMI of more 25. You also cannot have lost more than 10 pounds in the last month, be pregnant or nursing, have an actual gluten allergy or be partway through a different weight-loss program. You also have to be at least 18-years-old.

Getting into the study is simple — give them a call or an email. Once you meet the pre-screening qualifications, they’ll have you come in for an interview.

You can contact study officials at HF2Study (at) Tufts (dot) edu or call them at 617/556-3143.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Dani

    I would love to utilize this program. However, I do not live in the requisite area.

    Isn’t it ironic how they want to study military families due to the increased stress of PCS moves (which I admit, we have PCSed 3 times in 4 years, gone through 1 deployment, and it undoubtedly has contributed to my 20 lb weight gain), but they limit their candidates to such a small area that they cannot observe them as they are going through the PCS process. They won’t get those moving away from the area, so the only ones they may be able to study are the ones who have just PCSed to the area, after enduring the most challenging and stressful part of the move. Once you’re at the new PDS, the bulk of the PCS is over so the unhealthy eating stops then, at least usually it does for me. Yet, these are the families they are going to study…seems bogus. But hooray for the very few families that can actually participate….