Six months ago, I stood on the scales and was shocked. I weighed more than I had ever weighed (without having had a baby in the last year – baby weight totally doesn’t count) and I wanted to do something about it. The problem was, I was too light for Weight Watchers or Slimming World or any of the other clubs and groups. I didn’t know how I was going to lose this weight. I had been dabbling with a site called Weight Loss Resources for a while, but found that because there was no accountability involved, ie I wasn’t going to a class or group and nobody cared if I logged in or not, I wasn’t using it consistently. I had no doubts that it would work, but I would have to stick to it. My willpower is rubbish at the best of times, so there had to be an incentive. Step forward DietBet. Now, you’re bringing money into the matter, I will definitely stick to it. Or will I? I wanted to write a review for all those thinking of trying DietBet, so here is my honest opinion. Disclaimer: I was a DietBet member until last week, but I have received no incentives to post this review. You can read more about my DietBet journey, plus other ways I tried to make money online by buying my book 10 Totally Legal But Morally Questionable Ways I Tried To Make Money Online.
So, firstly, DietBet is not a weight loss programme. It’s an app and website that is more like a gambling site. I have no information on whether there is an independent body, like a gambling watchdog, keeping an eye on how this site is run and to be honest, I doubt that anyone is. You’ll see why if you read on. The idea is that you sign up to a game, bet on yourself losing weight and if you reach your weight loss goal, you get your money back, plus a share of the money from those who didn’t win their bet. So, if 100 people bet $20, then there would be a $2000 pot. Only five of them actually lose the weight, so 95 people would lose their $20 while 5 people would split the $2000 – in theory. That’s not how it goes. That’s how it’s advertised, but it’s not what actually happens.
DietBet is a business, and businesses need to make money. They have site running costs, wages to pay, probably office premises to rent etc. I don’t know what their exact running costs are, but there are likely to be plenty. So, they take a share of the pot. The 5 people who won would get their $20 minimum but from the remaining $1900 DietBet need to take their cut. It’s said that it’s 25% for some games and 10% for other ones.
My DietBet began on 1st January 2020. It was what’s called a Transformer game, which lasts 6 months in total. There are 6 rounds to the game and they last one calendar month each. So, I bet $35 for each month (or if I had paid the whole 6 months upfront I got the final month for free) and 50% of my stake went to that round 1 pot and 50% of my stake went to the game total pot which is distributed at the end of the 6 month period. That meant if I met my weight loss goal for January, in February I would have won back my stake plus a share of the pot for that month. So, minimum $17.50. There were 8302 players in the middle of January. This dropped slightly as people’s enthusiasm waned. By the 4th of February, once we had seen what we were getting for the first month’s weight loss, the number of players dropped to 8266. This is because the winners in January made a total of 66 cents profit.
That’s right. You didn’t read that wrong. We won back our $17.50 plus 66 cents. RAISE THE ROOF. DietBet took a substantial cut. If you’re looking to make decent money, look elsewhere.
The next thing you might be wondering is how much weight had to be lost. In the first month it is 3% of your body weight. I had to go from 112.6lbs to 109.2lbs. Before anyone says I didn’t have to lose weight, I am 4ft 10. So, yes I was still a healthy weight but before I gave birth to my son, I weighed 100lbs exactly. It was the best I had ever looked and felt, so I always have that in mind as my “fighting weight.” Plus, when you’re 4ft 10, every pound shows. Usually on my chin. My BMI was at 24 which is 1 point away from being overweight. The first 3% dropped off easily, and I met my goal by the middle of January. Then it crept back on, and I was actually anxious on 1st February that I wouldn’t win my stake back.
So, pros and cons of DietBet are as follows, in my opinion.
PROS OF DIETBET
- You have a real incentive to stick to your diet, especially if you are someone who is isolated and has no clubs or support network
- If you win, it can feel like a savings account that you can’t touch
- You can win prizes as well as your stake back.
- It’s a great way for diet bloggers to connect with their community, if they have been successful themselves and are inspiring others
CONS OF DIETBET
- There is an unnatural pressure to focus on the scales instead of health which to many is more important
- Even if you’ve changed your body, measurements, fitness levels and appearance, the scales are king
- Despite their protestations to the contrary, it is open to abuse. I’m pretty sure some people will cheat and wear crazy amounts of clothing on top on the first weigh in so that in their scales picture, they are showing an unrealistic weight. Then they’ll remove it for the full body picture
- The app is glitchy. No other way to say it. The app not accepting pictures was one of the most complained about things on the comment feed in my group.
- DietBet take their cut. And I personally think it is too high. Many players are already paying a membership fee, so why the need to take 25% of the winnings?
- Do you feel good about sharing in someone else’s misfortune? Players who lost their bets are not only disheartened about not losing the weight they desperately wanted to shed, they also lost money. You don’t know what their lives are like and maybe they can’t afford to lose that money. I see it as a breeding ground for depression. Those who win probably love the app but they’re profiting from someone else’s loss. Think about it.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about DietBet. If you’re on a diet that works for you, it can be great to find a like-minded community of dieters and make some cash while you’re at it. If you’re on a diet that, no matter how hard you try, hasn’t worked, it’s going to be upsetting because you’re not only not losing the weight, you’re losing money too. The sad fact is that sometimes, diets don’t work. This is high risk, it’s gambling and it needs to be tightly regulated. I can’t, at the time of writing, see any signposts for users to access support if they have a gambling addiction or an eating disorder and this is my major reservation about DietBet. Who is regulating this? I would love for someone from DietBet to reach out to me and give me the answer, and if that happens, I’ll update this post. If you’re reading it without an update, nobody has done that.
How did this end for me personally? Well, as you might have guessed, since this is being written in April 2020 and my DietBet wasn’t supposed to end until June 30th 2020, I bowed out. There were a couple of reasons. Firstly, I didn’t stick to the diet. I did really well and lost 6% at one point then lockdown started and I put almost everything back on. I admit I use sugar as a crutch, which I think is better than using drugs, alcohol or self-harm as many people do, but I think I have to tackle the sugar addiction before I think about losing weight. Plus, I’m too busy trying to stop the rona from entering my house to worry about whether my size 8 jeans fit me. Secondly, I would get really upset reading the stories in the comment thread that other dieters were posting. Some of them are really struggling with their weight, and medically they need to lose weight in a way that I don’t. Some of them will probably die young if they don’t get this under control, but given the number of people who were actually succeeding in the DietBet I participated in, I don’t think a lot of them are achieving their goals. Less than half met the round 3 target at the end of March according to the figures disclosed by DietBet. People were feeling worse about themselves, still weren’t as healthy as they should have been and they had now lost money too. Even if I won, I didn’t want to enjoy the money they had lost.
I consider myself a gambler and I don’t feel ashamed of it. My idea of a good night out is getting dressed up and blitzing the casino. One of the highlights of my life was doubling my money at the casino in Monte Carlo. When I feel upset or frustrated, or angry, I head to the arcade to blow off steam in the same way that some people might hit a bar, but I also consider myself to be a responsible gambler. It’s true what they say – when the fun stops, STOP. For me, with DietBet, the fun had stopped. I cashed out my winnings for January and spent them on educational apps for Luke to use during lockdown. Despite my experience, I still consider myself a recreational gambler and will continue to enjoy gambling safely and continue to use my own judgement on where the money is coming from and who loses when I win. I feel good about the decision to bow out of the bet.
I’m no longer a member of the Transformer game I joined. I am still a member of DietBet. I’m now 111lbs and I’ve put those jeans I wanted to slim into back in my wardrobe. I’m doing lots of YouTube Leslie Sansone walking workouts and limiting sugar as much as possible (ok, I’m sipping on a hot chocolate as I write this – JUDGE ME) and enjoying my life without thinking about getting back to 100lbs.
I give DietBet a 2/10. Although I won my first round, I was unsatisfied with the experience. The game is open to abuse, I had a major downer at the thought of profiting from vulnerable people’s misfortune and I had more questions than answers at the end of it. Would I do it again? I would never say never, but right now, I’m saying probably not.