Wagering on Weight Loss: Diet Bet Websites
When she grew too winded to sing a lullaby to her little girl after climbing the stairs in her Brooklyn brownstone, blogger Amy Oztan decided it was time to kick her diet into higher gear. She turned to dietbet.com, a new website that lets you wager on future weight loss. Although she’d previously managed to shed 18 lbs. on her own, Oztan figured that she’d be spurred on by the combined threat of online humiliation if she failed, plus the thrill of prize money if she succeeded.
Diet contests themselves have long been staged informally among friends or co-workers. But TV’s reality hit, “The Biggest Loser,” raised the profile of diet derbies and upped the ante with its $250,000 jackpot. Now a growing number of weight-loss websites are shaking up the diet business, adding the fun of social gaming and making wagers easier to organize. In addition to dietbet.com, which launched in January, other weight-loss websites include Fatbet, StickK, HealthyWage.
While their exact rules differ, all of these sites function along somewhat similar lines: a sponsor signs up competitors, who try to hit a certain weight-loss target by the deadline to win a specific reward (which might include babysitting or other non-monetary prizes). Registration is free, but most sites charge a small fee if asked to collect and supervise contributions. Any jackpot is shared among everyone who achieves the goal. The bets are not considered gambling, organizers say, because they’re not purely games of chance.
Recent research supports the idea that financial incentives —both positive and negative—can boost willpower. A study of dieters at the University of North Carolina indicated that weight loss rises with the size of the bonus. A Cornell study showed that employees were more willing to stay with workplace diet programs if they might forfeit a bond. And an influential study at the University of Pennsylvania found that those with money at stake are five times more likely to reach their goal weight than those without.
But maintenance remains elusive, according to lead researcher Kevin Volpp, MD, Director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at Penn, who is now studying longer-term effectiveness. “The real health and economic benefits of weight loss only happen if people keep doing this long enough to form a habit,” he notes.Tags:www laser-beauty-cosmetics com wagering-on-weight-loss-diet-bet-websites