Robrt L. Pela

Dieting for dollars

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Trina Aguilar is 47 pounds lighter than she was last year at this time – and $750 richer for it, besides.

Aguilar, a Glendale native, is among thousands of folks nationwide who have participated in HealthyWage, a cash reward-based program that pays people to lose weight.

You can’t make this stuff up.

HealthyWage estimates that its participants have dumped a collective 42,000 pounds, for which the fledgling weight-loss company has paid out more than $100,000. The program stages three-month-long, weight-loss “Match-Up” contests in which teams of five or more members choose a weight-loss program (Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and Nutrisystems are the current get-thin favorites) and then support one another in shedding pounds through social media.

Aguilar reports that she had a hard time losing the weight she’d gained during her third pregnancy of two years ago. “But when I heard that my insurance was going to go up because I was chubby,” she says, “I really wanted to lose the weight.”

Aguilar is referring to a recent Arizona Medicaid proposal to charge obese people a penalty for being overweight. The proposition, now under review, is one among several across the nation that would penalize smokers and the obese for “health-reductive behaviors.”

HealthyWage, which is funded by corporations that want employees to remain in the pink, is among many similar health incentive programs. But the New York-based company remains the only program that offers cash rewards for weight loss. Look for more, and more competitive, programs in the near future. “I heard about one that’s going to start up soon,” Aguilar says, her eyes shining, “that gives people a new car if they lose 100 pounds. That would be nice. I’d do that one in a heartbeat.”  

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