By Molly Freeman
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The most popular New Year’s resolution seems to be losing weight or getting in shape, but how many people actually meet their goal? How many keep up those healthy habits all year? Some websites have added elements of competition, including cash prizes, to keep people motivated.
A report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2008 studied the effects of financial incentives on weight loss. Over a four-week period, the groups who were given financial incentives lost much more weight than those without. This phenomenon has made its way onto the internet in the form of social diet betting websites like DietBet, FatBet, and stickK.
When asked about the healthiness of these sites, Dietician Leah Kaufman tells BTR they’re a great way to get people motivated, so long as participants don’t go to extremes to lose the weight.
“It’s never a good idea to plan for a weight loss that’s extreme because the likelihood of being able to maintain weight loss that happened at such a quick pace is very low,” says Kaufman. Because all bodies are individual, she says the best way to go about losing some unwanted pounds is to work with a dietician and stay healthy.
But, as Dr. Kaufman says, a little competition never hurt anyone. Here are some of the best diet betting sites on the net to get you started.
This is one of the most well known diet betting sites. It allows users to create a game with friends or join a game that’s already started. The more players in a game, the more money in the pot.
Each game is set up the same way: you have four weeks to lose four percent of your starting weight. There can be more than one winner in this game as anyone who loses his or her goal weight splits the pot. You may not win a lot of money if a lot of people reach their goal, but you’ll have fun in the process.
This site promotes healthy living through the use of “Commitment Contracts” that have been developed and tested by Yale University economists through field research. The process of making a Commitment Contract is to set a goal, set the stakes, get a referee, and find some supporters.
The stickK system is meant to be the best way of helping people achieve their goals through the use of incentives and help from others. The site has more of a social media aspect to it in that everyone has a profile and can write about their experiences in their own Commitment Journals. It’s a large site, so it’s good for people looking for a community.
Similar to DietBet, FatBet allows users to set their own weight loss goal and timeline. Although if someone is unsure of what their goal should be, the site has an option where a Fatbet organizer will set the goal weight. Users also don’t need to bet money on Fatbet.
Instead, participants can set up a penalty for the losers. Some penalties on their rules page are: “Losers sing in a Karaoke bar; winners pick the songs. Losers let facial or leg hair grow unchecked for 30 days.” So if you’re not into the idea of betting money on your weight loss, FatBet is a good option.
HealthyWage has different types of weight loss challenges that people can join, but the main goal of losing weight and making money stays the same. In the “10% Challenge,” you put down $150 and try to lose 10 percent of your body weight over six months. If you do so, you win $300.
In the BMI Challenge, players with an obese Body Mass Index (over 30) try to move to a normal BMI (less than 25) in a year; the pot pays up to $1,000. The Matchup Challenge is a group game with five players on each team; first place group is awarded $10,000. These challenges are great because they’re more long-term and there’s something for everyone.
Weight Loss Wars
This is another site that allows participants to create their own weight loss competitions with friends, family, and coworkers or join an ongoing challenge. Weight Loss Wars boasts 100,000 members that have lost 1.1 million pounds. There is a community on this site where participants can share exercise programs or healthy recipes to help each other lose weight. People can also ask friends and family who are not participating in a challenge to join the site as Motivators. Weight Loss Wars not only challenges you, but also offers a solid support group to help you reach your goal.
Fitsby is an app for smartphones that helps motivate people to work out. It’s set up so that users check in at their gym to keep track of their workouts. Fitsby requires a minimum workout of 30 minutes. However, it also implements the group feature that many of these other diet betting sites use so that users can challenge their friends to reach a certain workout goal and wager money. The money is then split up between those who reach their goal within the challenge. This app is good for people on the go who might not have the time to keep up with a website.
Lose It or Lose It
This site allows users to create their own weight loss plan over the course of 10 weeks. At the beginning, participants invest however much money they want. Then, they have to weigh in every week. If they fail to, a portion of their investment is deducted and goes to the owners of the website.
The site’s FAQ page has a couple videos showing ways the owners use the confiscated money such as leaving a big tip at a restaurant or chartering a sailboat. This site also has an option for supports to join you — they call them “Accountability Friends.” Lose It or Lose It has the unique system where your money doesn’t go to those who have completed their goals, which adds an extra bit of motivation.
This site helps users reach their goals through the use of what they call “crowdmotivation.” HealthRally allows users to either motivate themselves by building a network of supporters, or motivate a friend. This site has the unique feature that if a supporter wishes to, they can donate some money or a reward to help motivate a friend or family member.
Rewards include spa day passes, an iPad 2 or a donation to the charity of the participant’s choice. HealthRally also doesn’t need to be about losing weight; it’s about getting healthy. According to their site, users are three times more likely to reach their goals than those who do not use HealthRally. So if you need an extra push, this is a good site for that.
This is another app for people who have iPhones and Androids. It allows users to set a pact for the number of days a week they’ll go to the gym. Then they set the stakes—however much money they’d lose if they don’t go to the gym.
Every time the user works out, they check in with the app. If they don’t check in, their money is divided up among users who did. The GymPact app doesn’t have a set end date so you can use it, and make money, as long as you like.
This site isn’t focused on weight loss as a goal, but allows users to make or break any kind of habit over the course of 21 days. When someone signs up, they put in $21 up front and specify a habit they are breaking or creating. A dollar is deducted for every day the user doesn’t complete their task.
For example, if someone’s goal is to work out every day and they missed only one out of those 21 days, they would get $20 back. According to the 21habit site, lying is frowned upon, but if a user would like to withdraw at any point they can get their money back. The website sends money lost by its participants to charities. This site is useful on many different levels for breaking or creating habits such as working out, and helps out charities in the process.