Would the opportunity to win money based on how much weight you lost help you stick to a diet? A new study from Brown University’s Miriam Hospital Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center suggests that financial reward, as well as the strategic use of social media, may be the secret sauce for weight loss for some people. The study reviewed the weight loss of 40,000 participants in a web-based commercial weight loss program called DietBet, in which users join a game to lose weight while betting on themselves. After four weeks, players who have lost at least 4% of their body weight are deemed winners. (Weight loss is verified by photo based evidence of weigh-ins.) The “biggest losers” also shared information on Facebook, did more weigh-ins and engaged in social interactions with other members of the DietBet community. The researchers concluded, “DietBet, a social gaming website, reached nearly 40,000 individuals in just seven months and produced excellent four-week weight loss results. Given its reach and potential public health impact, future research may consider examining whether a longer program promotes additional weight loss.” The study was published in 2014MIR Serious Games.

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