Getting Fat People to Gamble on Weight Loss Is Cruel

weight lossTypically, I'm of the anything-that-works mentality when it comes to weight loss -- anything healthy, that is. But as long as you're ridding your body of dangerous fat, I don't think it matters if it's by acupuncture, diet, exercise, or wearing weight-loss underwear -- different strokes for different folks, and all of that. However, when it comes to plying people with cold, hard cash to shed the pounds, that just seems mean, especially in this economy.

HealthyWage is a weight loss company that essentially lets dieters gamble that they'll lose the weight. "Win money for losing weight" is their slogan. "I've got my life back ... and $1,000!" one user claims. "I'm in the best shape of my life ... and won $10,000," states another testimonial on the site.

Oh my gawd, sign me up!!! What's there to lose but weight, right? Not quite ...


First, you have to pony up your bet. During the site's current 10 percent challenge, you put up $100. If you lose 10 percent of your body weight in six months, you get $200. If you don't, well, you just lost your money. So now we're curing one addictive behavior (overeating) with another (gambling), brilliant.

Sure you can call it an incentive, which organizers do. David Roddenberry, co-founder of HealthyWage, recently told The Huffington Post:

A gamble is a game of chance and this is a game of skill. If you lose the weight you will get paid -- there is no chance involved. From a legal perspective, we are comfortable that is a contract between a participant and us.

Legalities aside, it just seems cruel, especially when people now really need money. We all think we can lose weight if we just try, and we go into diets with all the determination in the world. It's when we actually get a few days (or hours) into it that our efforts are derailed for a hundred different reasons. So I see all these people who really need the money putting down their bet then losing it, because frankly it's just not that easy. Also, I worry about those who so desperately need money that they'll starve themselves or resort to other unhealthy methods to collect the cash.

Weight loss is really always a gamble. We've all spent plenty of money on "goal" jeans that still have the tags hanging from them mocking us in our closets, or have loaded up our refrigerator with healthy fruits and vegetables only to notice that they've gone bad as we reach in to find the chocolate sauce for our ice cream. But gambling our money in such a straightforward way seems worse somehow and like something I'm afraid Vegas is going to find some weird way to jump on soon.

What do you think of the idea of gambling on weight loss?

Image via alancleaver_2000/Flickr

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