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Would you bet on your ability to lose weight?

Posted May 16 2013 1:26am

Have you ever considered this concept? Would you be more inclined to stick to that diet or go for that run if there was a financial reward attached? How big would that reward have to be? What if it wasn’t a carrot but a stick? What if instead of making money to lose it you stood to lose money if you didn’t reduce your waistline? Would you sign up?

DietBet_money_jar Image via dietbet

As a notorious money waster, seeker of weight loss joy and lover of all things random and quirky online this kind of thing is right up my alley.

There are a bunch of studies that have looked at this concept of financial reward to encourage weight loss. The Mayo Clinic in the US ran a 12 month study that gave dieters the chance to win or lose money based on their weight loss success. Those involved lost 4 times more weight than those who were not offered any cash incentives. Another one required people put their own money at risk, which they lost if they failed to lose weight. This financial incentive produced significant weight loss over an 8 month period.

Tim Ferriss certainly thinks it’s a good idea. In the 4 Hour Body he covers loss aversion and on his blog he explains

When you diet alone, nobody’s holding your feet to the fire. There’s nothing stopping you from saying, “I’ll do it next month.” But when you compete with others, especially with money on the line, it focuses you on a goal like nothing else. It’s strict accountability wrapped in a game.

Jordan Goldberg, co-founder and chief executive of the website stickK.com , was recently interviewed by the LA times. His site is based on the premise that people are motivated to break old habits through their wallets.

Money is a great motivator; everybody has a price at which they are willing to change their behaviour. For example, if you’ve got $50 on the line each week to lose a pound and you’d like a $5 cheeseburger, that now costs you $55 if you don’t make your weight that week.

Once a goal is set (be it losing weight or saving money, for instance) the goal-setter can place wagers on whether she will accomplish it. She can also opt to give money to charity if she reaches a certain objective or — in a kind of reverse motivation — to have money donated to a charity that supports a cause that she disagrees with if he fails. This is the site’s most popular motivational option.

There are many variations on this general theme online with sites like fatbet.net , healthywage.com , and dietbet.com to name a few.

I like what they’re doing at stikK so I’ve just joined up. I’ll be checking in with them regularly and if I’m not reaching my goals they’ll be taking $20 per week from me to give to the NRA, one of my least favourite organisations. The thought of my cash going to those psychos makes my blood boil and provides me with what I feel will be a very powerful motivator to stick to my guns so to speak.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

What would be your greater motivator? Making money or the prospect of losing it?

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