A few well-publicized academic studies have shown that financial incentives can be very effective in helping people lose weight. As a result, there is now a website called HealthyWage.com that will actually pay you money if you can prove you dropped a certain amount of weight. You can even risk your own money, in order to provide both a carrot and a stick (shouldn’t it be HealthWager?). There are a few different “challenges” available:
- Free $100 BMI Challenge. You must go from an obese BMI (BMI>30) to a healthy BMI (BMI<25) in one year. The free BMI Challenge pays a $100 prize with no upfront fee. Alternatively, you can put up a maximum of $300 at risk in order to win the max prize $1,000.
- 10% Challenge. You wager $150 and double your money ($300) if you lose 10% of your weight over six months.
- $10,000 Team Challenge. Competition between groups of people during preset 3-month intervals, with the top prize being $10,000. The entry fee is $25/month for three months (or a one-time $75 fee).
In terms of verification, you can either make short video of yourself following their specific instructions (continuous video, calibrate scale, show entire body, etc.) or visit a fitness or medical professional (health club worker, doctor, etc.). Supposedly, the website is funded by “advertising dollars from insurance companies, health-care systems, and food companies, as well as some government money”.
I respect that they are trying something new. It would be cool if they could help people achieve long-term weight loss, although just the hurdle of having to remember to do something a year later will probably win them a lot of bets. I’m not eligible for the freeroll, but I might try the 10% Challenge out in January… you know, post-holiday food coma.