Recent studies have shown that financial incentives help to promote a healthier lifestyle; these include better adherence to medication, taking more exercise and quitting smoking. Although this is in accordance with economic theory, it also raises objections. Firstly, it may be considered too paternalistic, secondly it raises health care costs, and thirdly it creates ethical dilemmas. In this commentary I argue that it may still be worthwhile to implement these incentives. Moreover, I use insights from behavioural economics to provide a number of recommendations on promoting healthy behaviour in a more cost-effective way, while taking into account the resulting ethical issues.