Get Paid to Lose that Weight, Houston

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Hey, Fatty McFatterson -- how much would you need to be paid to put down that moon pie? Ten bucks? Fifty? A hundred? Well, a company called HealthyWage is sponsoring a weight-loss contest where teams of five can win up to $10,000.

Starting April 15, Houstonians can register for the contest, which runs from May 13 to August 12. Here's how it works: You and four friends pay a $60 registration fee, weigh yourselves in at a participating gym/weight loss center, and then commence the fat-shedding. The three winning teams are selected based on percentage of weight lost -- with a max of 1.5 percent per week, in order to keep things healthy. Individuals with a body-mass index above 30 can also win $100 in a separate challenge, if they drop their BMI to below 25 in a year. (It's free to sign up, but if you want to shoot for the $1,000 "SuperSizer" prize, you've got to pay $300).

Warning: If you're thinking you can game the system by swallowing handfuls of Phen-fen or laxatives, or by maybe chopping off a fatty appendage, you're SOL.

"We do reserve the right at the end of the contest to investigate...how the folks lost the weight," HealthyWage co-founder David Roddenberry tells Hair Balls. "We want to run a fair contest that rewards people for...making healthy decisions."

According to the company's Web site, "recent studies suggest that cash incentives triple the success of weight loss programs."

Roddenberry says the company hasn't looked into whether all the past winners have been able to keep the weight off, but he says HealthyWage is working on a monthly maintenance program where participants can earn a few extra bucks for every month they stay within their target range.

Hey -- if increased risk of heart disease and Type II diabetes isn't incentive enough to keep you from stuffing family-sized sacks of tater tots down your gravy-stained maw, then maybe the lure of cold hard cash will get you to wise up. Just make sure not to blow all your winnings on a trip down the candy aisle.

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