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Bet on Yourself to Lose Weight and Lose!

How would you feel about placing a bet for a sum of money on yourself to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time and have the chance to win or lose the bet?

A survey conducted by two economists following the fortunes of fifty dieters who placed bets on themselves to lose weight with a London bookmaker found that 80 percent of them actually lost their bets!

Put Money on Yourself

betting on weight lossJohn Lynham of the University of Hawaii and Nicholas Burger of RAND looked at the betting results of 50 people who put money on themselves with leading sports betting bookmakers, William Hill.

The bets on the outcome of their personal weight loss attempts are a small side-business the company runs to generate some additional publicity.

The terms of each bet are negotiated by William Hill with each would-be dieter on an individual basis.

The bets generally tend to have long odds where the dieter stands to win a multiple of their initial bet. The terms also require the bettor to achieve a high level of bulk loss in a relatively short period of time. Each individual bet's terms are assessed on the individual's circumstances.

In the survey's results, the average dieter started with a measure of 263 pounds with a final target of 180 pounds to be achieved within eight months in order to win the bet. There was a high degree of variation in the start and target weights across the dieters, but the average provides a general idea of what was expected.

Burger and Lynham found in their study that in fully 80 percent of the fifty cases, the dieter lost their bet, failing to reach their target.

Of course, these cases are rather exceptional as it is difficult to lose so much weight in such a relatively short time span. Even the financial incentives of winning the bet failed to help the vast majority of dieters achieve their target.

Long Term Gain

A big part of the problem that these dieters face is that any financial incentive associated with weight loss will only be realized in the long-term, whereas the kind of temptations that often foil dieters attempts are immediate and hard to avoid.

"When you look at a doughnut, it looks amazing right now," Burger said.

As a general rule, people tend to underestimate the value of the benefits gained in the future against benefits of those things we can have immediately. So they'll eat the doughnut, despite the fact that they'll lose out on any longer-term financial benefits.

Maybe someone needs to figure out how to pay a dieter a few bucks every time they decide to NOT eat a doughnut!


Posted on Fri, 10 Sep 2010 in News | 0 Comments

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