Online social gaming with financial incentives produced impressive 4-week weight losses and should be considered a model for future endeavors, according to study results presented at Obesity Week 2013.
In a poster presented during the meeting, Tricia Leahey, PhD, of Brown Medical School, and colleagues looked at DietBet.com, a social gaming website that incentivizes weight loss by pitting participants against one another to split a common pot of money. The participants bet money to join the game and all players who lose 4% of their baseline body weight split the donations.
“Social solutions like DietBet provide a common sense platform to connect with and support people affected by obesity who are looking to improve their health,” Leahey said in a press release. “The study shows that betting higher amounts of money, sharing on Facebook, and integrating more social interactions can facilitate greater weight loss.”
The study looked at 25,808 players (83% women; 89.1 ± 22.3 kg baseline) who participated in 1,356 games from December 2012 to April 2013. Of those studied, 90% provided a final weight at the end of 4 weeks. Mean weight loss across all players was 3.1%. Those classified as winners (n=11,355) averaged 4.9% lost, with 31% losing at least 5% of their baseline weight. Players bet an average of $28, and winners received $60 on average.
The following factors were indicators of greater success: betting more money, sharing on Facebook, completing more weigh-ins and having more social interactions during the game (all P<.001).
“Researchers agree that gaming, social influence, and financial incentives are all forms of motivation that can be effective for weight loss,” Amanda Staiano, PhD, of Pennington Biomedical Research Center, said in the release. “Web-based platforms like DietBet.com show promise as cost-effective and scalable resources to provide individuals with the motivation and tools to lose weight.”
For more information:
Leahey T. Abstract T-792-P. Presented at: Obesity Week; Nov. 11-15, 2013; Atlanta.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.