Don’t Pay to Lose Weight — Get Paid Instead

Wagering on your own weight-loss goal can improve your odds of reaching the goal, studies show. Here's how you can start winning money for losing weight.

It’s the rare dieter who doesn’t experience a twinge of envy when looking at photos of the grand prize winner on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” There they are: slim, happy and clutching a fat check.

We’d all like to be paid a major bonus for hitting our target weights. Good news — now we can be.

Shed pounds, gain dollars

There are several programs based on this simple concept: You make a weight loss bet. If you reach your goal, you win money. If you miss your goal, you lose money. The programs vary, but they help you, and maybe your teammates, reach goals by offering structure, accountability, games and — importantly — cash.

Compare winning money to paying money, which is how it works with most diet programs, from Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig.

Science supports the idea of monetary rewards for weight loss. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, found that financial incentives prompted 62 percent of dieters to lose weight. In contrast, only 26 percent of those without cash on the line lost weight. And a study published in the medical journal JAMA tied financial incentives to “significant weight loss.”

Unlike the contestants on “The Biggest Loser,” you won’t be required to leave your family, home and friends to participate in programs that offer financial rewards for weight loss. True, you won’t have the support of “The Biggest Loser” trainers and medical professionals. If you choose to take the team approach, however, you can get encouragement from teammates.

Success stories

Daniel Teuscher was one of five members of a team that did a weight-loss challenge through HealthyWage. Their team, dubbed “Will Work For Less Food,” managed to lose a combined 252 pounds and win $10,000. Teuscher credits the tight-knit nature of the group for its success.

“We kept in contact throughout the whole challenge,” he said on HealthyWage’s website. “We tried to be very positive and encouraging. There were some tough weeks that we had to lean on each other to keep going. We wanted to win; but losing the weight was the most important.”

To hear another success story, check out the video above.

Get started

Ready to get rewarded for your weight-loss efforts? Here are some of the programs currently out there:

  • HealthyWage: You can enroll in either personal or team challenges. What you win depends on how much weight you lose, how long it takes you to lose it and how much money you put up.
  • StickK: This program, described on its website as a “goal-setting platform,” was created by behavioral economists at Yale University. You can customize your goals and put the details — including any stakes — in writing as a “Commitment Contract.” StickK describes stakes as “the price of failure.” If you wager money and fail, the money goes to a recipient of your choice.
  • DietBet: This program’s mantra is “commit, collaborate and celebrate.” It uses both financial incentives and social gaming to help you stick to your commitment. There are three games to choose from, each involving a different weight-loss goal, duration and bet amount.

Whether you choose one of these programs or a different one, the bottom line is the same: The only thing better than losing weight is gaining some cash while you do it.

Have you tried any of these programs or one like them? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.


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