Weight-loss wagering websites give new meaning to the phrase ‘put your money where your mouth is.’ On Healthywage.com and others like it, teams of dieters compete against each other to lose weight and gain money. And these diet betting sites are gaining popular ground, the Associated Press reports (despite the fact that research on financial incentives and weight loss has been inconclusive). Think putting some money down could help you slim down? Here’s a look at three different ways you could bet on your weight-loss potential.
1. Join an online competition. At WeightLossWars.com, you can join a weight loss or exercise competition with friends and family, or join a public competition. The amount you put in the prize pot (and the amount you can win) varies by competition. Healthywage.com—whose slogan is “Wellness is Valuable”—also offers team and individual challenges. In the 10% Challenge, you pay $100 to participate—and win $200 if you lose 10% of your body weight over six months. In the Matchup challenge, teams of five compete to lose the most weight (within a reasonable range) for a $10,000 prize. Healthywage challenges are open to anyone, but many teams are organized or sponsored by employers, and “employees of corporate clients get reduced rates,” the site states.
2.Make a financial deal with yourself. Websites like Stickk differ from diet competition sites in that the only person dieters have to worry about losing to is themselves. They set the financial stakes themselves, as well. Rules differ by website, but the basic gist of these types of sites is that dieters track their progress online, and set up automatic financial punishments for failing to meet weight-loss goals. A user might, for instance, sign-up to have $10 debited from his or her bank account and given to a friend every time a weekly goal isn’t met. Stickk also offers an ‘anti-charity’ option, in which failure to drop pounds spawns a donation to a hated cause (the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Americans United for Life are top anti-charity recipients, AP notes).
3. Make a wager with a friend. After losing 60 pounds on his own a few years ago, Ray L., a writer living in Washington, D.C, entered a weight-loss wager with a friend. Both men aimed to lose 60 pounds within six months, and they agreed to pay each other a certain amount of money per pound lost. The idea that if they both succeeded in shedding weight, they would cancel each other out and neither would have to pay up.
Ray lost 40 pounds during the challenge. But while the competition, and the threat of losing money was a motivation, “I don’t know that it was greater or less than what I was able to do on my own,” says Ray.
For those considering starting a weight-loss wager or competition with friends, Ray advises: ”A two-way bet is a bad idea, particularly if you are friends. It’s too easy to collude against yourselves. You need a group bet, or a third party to enforce it. And a six-month bet just goes on too long. Smaller, shorter-term goals are easier to meet.”