Reducing your waistline may increase your bottom line

Smartphone apps offer new way to motivate dieters

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – Research shows that while many people want to lose weight, they struggle to stay motivated.

It's a plight Latisha Rowe is all too familiar with.

"I've been 30 pounds lighter than I am. My goal is to lose 10 pounds this month," Rowe said.

She's found a way to make it pay off, literally.

"Money is an excellent motivator," Rowe said.

It all started when she discovered DietBet, an online community accessible through a simple smartphone app. 

This and similar apps allow users to join in on an existing bet or create one of their own.

If you reach your goal, you're guaranteed to at least get back what you pay in, and possibly much more when the pot is split.

"In all of my challenges, we've given out payments as big as $500," Rowe said. 

A similar concept works on a team approach to build camaraderie and bring in even more money, but health experts see potential pitfalls with these programs.

"I think a lot of people are motivated by money and financial gain. For some people this might be the perfect choice but for others it can cause quite a bit of stress, and stress does not let anybody lose weight," endocrinologist Dr. Rocio Harbison said.  

Rowe said she's already lost five pounds towards her current goal and has earned over $10,000 for hosting and winning weight loss challenges.

"With money in front of you, you're going to want to stay consistent," she said.

Here are some of the programs that can be used to create financial incentives to lose weight: 

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