NYT: 5, 2009
Dieting? Put Your Money Where Your Fat Is
By PAMELA WEILER GRAYSON
FOR Samwoo Ee, the first bet was just a warm-up.
Mr. Ee, 30, worked at an Internet company in SoHo, and had been competing with a colleague to
see who could lose more weight. But they had both stopped going to the gym because of long
hours at the office. In search of more motivation, they turned up the pressure: they entered into a
formal one-month wager to see who could cut the higher percentage of their body mass index.
“It got pretty competitive,” said Mr. Ee, who weighed 248 at the time. “We used to do push-ups
every hour in front of each other’s cubicles. And he used to leave really good chocolate on my
His co-worker, Daniel Fries, won the first month, after losing about 16 pounds to Mr. Ee’s 10,
and Mr. Ee paid him $20.
Then, Mr. Ee said, “it got serious.”
Six co-workers joined them in another weight-loss competition. “I told them this was going to be
dirty,” Mr. Ee said. There were weekly weigh-ins by an outside record keeper. Mr. Ee finished
second in that bet, after losing an additional four pounds. Along the way, Mr. Ee’s officemates
enjoyed taunting one another with comments like, “Are you sure you want to eat that bagel?”
and “Why don’t you get a cheeseburger for lunch and I’ll get a salad?”
It was an eight-player example of a
bet, in which those seeking to lose pounds give
themselves a new incentive: money. If they don’t lose more weight than the competition, they
lose cash. Internet sites that facilitate diet betting have seen an increase in traffic, and recent
studies have supported what Mr. Ee and his co-workers discovered: diet bets work for many
people who couldn’t seem to shed pounds any other way.
“Diet betting is definitely becoming more popular among friends, relatives and co-workers,” said
Joy Bauer, author of “Joy’s Life Diet: Four Steps to Thin Forever,” and founder of Joy Bauer
Nutrition, a firm with offices in Manhattan and Westchester County. “It makes life easier if