Saturday, June 20, 2009

Poll: How do you commit to losing weight?

I recently read an article at Economists Do It with Models entitled Be Careful With Those Commitment Devices..., which made the claim (supported by observation and behavioral economics research) that people who tell their friends about their intended diet plans are less likely to lose weight. Based on this conclusion, the article tells us to keep our dieting plans to ourselves if we want to lose weight (a conclusion that makes me wary).

You can see what I think about the article in the article's comments. Also, some of you may have read an article I wrote on my own on commitment device for getting out of bed in the morning. I think commitment devices are a great way to get stuff done. You just have to be careful.

Losing weight is a difficult thing to do. But, if one can find a good way to commit to be fit, we might be able to lose those unwanted pounds. Inspired by the Economists Do It With Models post, my question this week is How do you commit to losing weight?

(a) Use silent willpower
(b) Tell your friends you're on a diet
(c) Sabotage your car (so you have to walk everywhere. i.e., put a screw or nail in your tire)
(d) Write a check to your rival school's athletic scholarship fund. Give the money to a trusted friend who can check on your diet. Instruct him to send the check if you cheat on your diet (Source: The Logic of Life by Tim Harford. A similar contract can be found here).

The poll gives four options (please select one on the sidebar), but I also encourage comments. The most creative way to lose weight wins! I don't have any actual prizes, but you can win public gratitude.

The poll is open for a week. Please vote and tell your friends to vote. I'm interested in seeing what you and your friends think. Heck, tell your enemies to vote. That should make for some interesting discussion.


  1. Every time my boyfriend and I broke up, I'd lose at least ten pounds. Now that we are married, this strategy no longer works. My current strategy? Being a student, my income is pathetic. That combined with the fact that I just upgraded to a spendier apartment ensures that I will reduce my consumption of all other goods, particularly food, and am therefore guaranteed to lose weight! As you are an economist, it's worth mentioning that my intense food snobbery prevents me from merely substituting towards inferior food such as Top Ramen and Fun Dip...

  2. Thanks for the link! There is a follow up post, for your reading pleasure:


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