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If weight loss is one of your health goals, getting paid to lose weight might sound like a dream come true. A financial reward may help motivate you to stay the course on days when you don’t want to work out or nights when desserts are calling your name. But does the reality of weight-loss betting really measure up? How likely are you to lose your money and be right back where you started, with nothing lighter but your wallet?

Let’s dig into programs that offer the opportunity to get paid to lose weight: how they work, how much you could potentially earn, and the overall pros and cons of weight loss contests.

42.4%of Americans are obese according to the CDC.

How Can You Get Paid to Lose Weight?

The most certain way to be paid to lose weight is probably to make a bet with a friend or family member. For example, decide that the first to lose 10 pounds or 5% of body weight owes the other $50. Or you can look for clinical research trials in your area that pay you for diet studies or to test weight loss programs, although these are few and far between. 

If you don’t know anyone who’s up for making a personal bet with you, you can turn to the internet to find an app or program that offers rewards for losing weight. 

Apps that Pay You to Lose Weight

Let’s look at some weight loss reward programs and how they work. We’re not recommending any specific platform. Be sure to read the Pros and Cons section before deciding to place a bet.

1. HealthyWage

Average app store rating: 4.8 (Apple) / 4.6 (Google Play)

BBB rating: Not accredited; A 

HealthyWage is by far the most popular weight loss reward program. You place a wager on yourself to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain time. You must bet to lose at least 10% of your total weight, so it’s not an option if you’re just looking to lose a few pounds. 

Your prize is calculated with an algorithm that factors in your weight loss goal, BMI, bet amount, time of year (summer is statistically the best season for weight loss), etc. The more money you bet and the more weight you have to lose, the higher your prize will probably be (it caps at $10,000, but most are much less than that). You can play with the prize calculator on the HealthyWager Page to get a specific number based on your info.

For your first and final weigh-ins, you’ll submit a verified video showing your full body and the scale display. See full video rules here. 

Is HealthyWage legit? In short—yes. It is a trusted program that does what it promises to do for most people. On the flip side, one of those promises is no refunds. If you sign up for a wager, you should be confident and disciplined about your approach. If you don’t lose the weight, you lose your money.

Learn more about how everything works in the HealthyWage FAQ

2. DietBet

Average app store rating: 4.7 (Apple) / 4.8 (Google Play) 

BBB rating: Not accredited; A- 

DietBet is a weight loss betting program similar to HealthyWage, with its own unique spin. Instead of betting alone, you join a DietBet “game” with other participants. Anyone within your challenge group who meets their weight loss goal splits the prize money, minus a fee. It turns the weight loss into a social activity. You can interact with and support the other members of your team.

You can sign up for two types of challenges: either committing to lose 4% of your body weight in four weeks or 10% in six months. DietBet prizes are based on the number of participants and how many of them succeed, so it’s impossible to predict your exact winnings. Furthermore, since DietBet takes a 10-25% fee out of the total prize pot, you could win and not get a prize at all. Winners will at least have their initial bets returned. 

This isn’t to say you can’t make money. One DietBet participant calculated their average rate of return for 10 bets: they ranged between an average of 0.4% to 59.1%, with a final average of 16.6%. 

Find more details about the program in the DietBet knowledge base

3. StepBet

Average app store rating: 4.8 (Apple) / 4.5 (Google Play) 

BBB rating: Not accredited; B for parent company

StepBet belongs to the same parent company as DietBet, and it works in about the same way. You contribute to a communal pot, work towards a step goal, and split with other winners. It’s not officially a weight loss app: the wagers involve fitness goals, not weight loss goals. Walking more translates to burning more calories, though, so it can certainly help you meet your weight and health goals. 

StepBet could be a better option if you prefer programs with defined challenges like “walk X steps” instead of a weight loss target which requires balancing numerous more nebulous factors.

Learn more in the StepBet FAQ.

4. stickK

Average app store rating: 3.3 (Apple) / 3 (Google Play) 

BBB rating: Not accredited; A+

StickK is far from the most popular app on this list. It doesn’t have many reviews on either app store, and there are complaints that it’s glitchy and feels like a beta version. It does have unique features, so it may be worth a try anyway.

Behavioral economists at Yale created the platform, using a variety of methods to raise the stakes and increase your chances of success. You can choose what happens to your money if you lose it. It could go to someone you know, a charity you like, or (perhaps most interestingly) an “anti-charity” with a cause you hate, so you really won’t want to lose your bet. You can also invite people to monitor your progress and provide accountability.

Learn more in the stickK help center.

5. Achievement

Average app store rating: 4.6 (Apple) / 4.5 (Google Play)

Achievement differs from the apps above in a couple of key ways. It’s not a betting-style app at all. It rewards you for healthy habits measured through fitness trackers and surveys. Medical researchers can use your information, though it will be anonymous. Once you’ve synced the relevant tracking mechanisms, it begins working automatically. 

This isn’t an app that will make you rich. You can cash out $10 for every 10,000 points. Bigger activity goals (e.g. 30,000 steps per day) earn you 80 points per day. Smaller activities (e.g. logging food, weighing yourself) net you 6 points each. Doing surveys, referring friends, and reading health articles are a few other ways to earn. If you’re lucky, you’ll earn enough to splurge on the organic carrots at the grocery store.

Achievement is a good app for earning you a little low-effort cash on the side while you track your health and weight progress, and it doesn’t require you to put any of your own money on the line to earn the rewards.

Learn more about Achievement here.

Pros & Cons of Weight-Loss Betting

Let’s see how the idea of getting paid to lose weight really measures up.

Pros:

  1. The motivation factor — Almost nobody has limitless internal motivation, so sometimes we need external incentives and accountability to keep us on track. The reward of extra money if we achieve a goal, combined with the threat of losing our own hard-earned dollars if we fail, can be a powerful driving force to stay committed. According to one small study, weight loss success rates are higher when there’s a financial incentive[1].
  2. The social element — Humans are social animals, and we often find it easier to achieve our goals when we’re working towards them with others. Some weight loss reward platforms have built-in communities or ways to involve your existing social connections with your journey.
  3. The potential to earn money — People can and do win money with weight loss betting. Depending on the factors involved, your prize could amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Just keep in mind that to win higher prizes, you have to risk higher amounts of money.

Cons:

  1. No refunds — Have your life circumstances changed? Did you realize you don’t need to lose as much weight as you thought? It doesn’t matter: once you’ve made the bet, your money is on the line and you cannot back out.
  2. Limited earnings — Programs like HealthyWage can be a little misleading when they advertise past participants’ winning amounts or estimate your rewards. Why? Because they typically include the amount of your bet in their final figure. For instance, if you want to lose 30 pounds and you bet $50 a month for 6 months, you might see a prize range of $325-$750 depending on your other information. However, these figures include the $300 you’re paying to participate. That drops the actual profits to $25-$450 . Before you commit to a wager, calculate how much you’ll actually profit vs. how much you could lose.
  3. You pay taxes on winnings — If you win your bet, Uncle Sam will want in on the action too. Expect a 1099 if your winnings exceed $600, and ask your tax advisor how to handle it if they’re under that threshold. You’ll only pay taxes on the amount you actually won (not on your wagered amount), but this could shave another 25% off your profit.
  4. There are negative reviews — For every success story, there’s a complaint on the other side. Don’t get distracted by the smiling photos and slimmed-down pictures on the program websites; dig into the other side to build a full picture. Browse through Better Business Bureau complaints for each platform you’re considering. Consult groups like r/HealthyWage and r/LoseIt to read experiences and ask advice. Read recent app store reviews to see if anyone is reporting usage or payment issues. Keep in mind that some reviewers may just be angry about losing, but others may have valid critiques and frustrations.
  5. Many people lose — If the majority of people won their bets, it wouldn’t make sense for weight loss contest sites to stay in business. Unfortunately, there aren’t comprehensive studies measuring success and failure rates of weight loss contests in general, but HealthyWage founder David Roddenberry said in 2016 that about 30-40% of participants win their bets[2]. stickK reports higher rates of around 75% when users make a monetary wager[3]; however, their data encompasses non-weight-related goals like quitting smoking, meeting financial goals, improving workplace performance, etc. The takeaway is that failure is possible. You could bet hundreds of dollars, then still find that the weight just isn’t coming off as fast as you need.

Getting paid to lose weight is possible, but it deserves caution and due diligence. Like with any money challenge or purchase, don’t wager more than you could afford to lose. If all goes according to plan, you might just come out at the end with a skinnier waist and a fatter bank account!

What are your thoughts on getting paid to lose weight? Is it a good idea or should people stay away from it? Let us know in the comments section below!