Diet bets are popping up everywhereonline, in gyms, at weight loss classes, and as informal wagers among friends, spouses, and coworkers. Theyre popular because they work. A multicenter study of 57 dieters found those who stood to lose money if they didnt succeed in shedding weight were about five times as likely to reach their goal as those with no financial stake in the outcome. Half of the gamblers dropped 16 pounds in 16 weeksa congratulatory pound a weekcompared to just 10 percent of a group of nonbettors.
In another study of 200 dieters at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, those who were told theyd pocket $14 for every 1 percent of lost body weight were nearly five and a half times more likely to shed 5 percent of their body weight than another group that was not offered a monetary incentive.
Putting money, ego, and bragging rights on the line is a potent formula for keeping up your motivation. If eating chocolate cake tonight means youll lose $10 or $50 at your next weigh-in, dessert suddenly isnt very attractive, says Dean Karlan, Ph.D., a Yale University behavioral economist. After losing 40 pounds in a personal bet with a friend, Karlan went on to found stickk.com, one of the first of several online weight-loss betting sites.
Could this work for you? Researchers, diet veterans, and founders of betting websites say wagering could be your ticket to weight loss success if:
You thrive on competition You enjoy competition, whether its at sports, board games, making the best dish for the church potluck supper, or competing against yourself.
You know how to lose weight, but you have trouble sticking to it. Betting can keep you motivated for the long haul.
You need a wake-up call You think youre following a good weight-loss program, but the scale isnt budging because youre letting yourself cheat or give in to excuses to slack off on exercise.
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