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November 11, 2021

Could cash be the key to losing weight?

Can putting your money where your mouth is really help you to lose weight?

Co-workers and friends have made small weight loss wagers for years, but now there’s new help for those who want to raise the bar when looking to place friendly diet bets.

Some people compete for a winner-take-all pot, others have to pay if they don't lose weight. Either way, if you don’t lose more weight than the competition, you lose cash.

Does this kind of intervention translate into sustainable, long-term lifestyle changes? Well, there’s certainly some research to support the idea of healthy competition

In one study, dieters were divided into three groups. One group was offered a chance to contribute between one penny and $3 into an account daily. The researchers matched the deposit and added $3 for each day a participant called in and reported a weight at or below their goal – with the understanding that only those who reached their weight-loss goal got to collect at month's end.

After 16 weeks, that group lost 14 pounds on average, the researchers say, versus 3.9 pounds for the study's control group.

Another group got to play a daily lottery that had a one-in-five chance of a $10 reward and a one-in-100 chance of a $100 reward. Again, only those who met their weight-loss goal and called in to report it that day were eligible to play.

16 weeks later that group dropped 13 pounds on average, 9 pounds more than the control group.

If you want to forge ahead, have a look at StickK which actually makes you sign a contract and back it with a credit card. If you come up short, you’ll have to settle up with them although most people designate a friend or charity as recipients of their lost money.

Two other sites, Fatbet and Makemoneylosingweight, offer a forum for publicly tracking weight and setting specific incentives, although neither handles the monetary part of the bet.

Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...