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HealthyWage program pays dieters to lose weight

May 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
HealthyWage pays $10,000 to any team of dieters that can lose the most weight. One local team, The Transformers, tied for first place in the competition featuring 176 other teams.

There's only a $60 entry fee for the online betting service, which has the potential for a big return.

A new competition is held every three months. Teams of five pay their fees and head to a structured weigh-in spot like a health club chain for verification.

Rich Marshall of Sonic Automotive in Monrovia is part of a team called The Mafia. He says he even enjoys the camaraderie of losing. He's lost 27 pounds so far.

"It pushes me personally. And I give it back too, because if you're doing well, you feel good. Somebody didn't do as well so you can tease them," he said. "My goal actually is many more pounds even after it's over."

Social media is key. Posting pictures and weight-loss progress in real time keeps things competitive, plus it's a good way to keep an eye on nationwide opponents.

The Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that weight loss with financial incentives helps dieters lose more. It appears peer pressure, bragging rights and money is a recipe for success.

A Brown University study calls it a ripple effect. The teasing, training, and tightening up the diet in a group setting is contagious.

Of course that pack mentality can also go the other way, but these guys realize the value of what they're doing.

"I just ran 12 miles the other day, I've never done that in my life," said Pablo Nunez, who is part of The Transformers team.

After all that hard work, there will still be room for a bit of self-rewarding. Transformers team member Jerry Suner admits he's looking forward to eating bacon again.

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