Have you heard of apps that offer financial rewards for those who lose weight? They exist and are gradually gaining popularity. In Brazil, the options are still few, but in the United States, the number of offers for websites and applications is greater. However, although it seems like an interesting idea, experts warn of the risks that this type of service can offer to health.
READ: Weight loss with the help of mobile: meet seven fitness apps
The popularity of some of these applications is expressive. DietBet, for example, has more than 400,000 users in 90 countries, according to the official website. There, they also say that a total of over US $ 21 million (about R $ 84.5 million) has already been paid to the winners. HealthyWage, on the other hand, has more than 100 thousand downloads in the Google Play Store alone, and it is not possible to measure the number of users that use the site. It is not available on the App Store.
Apps offer financial rewards for users who lose weight – Photo: Nicolly Vimercate / dnetc
Applications work with different forms of financial compensation. Some work on the betting scheme and, for this, at least two people must invest a certain amount. Whoever loses weight faster, takes the prize. In others, the user himself invests his money and, as the results are achieved, this value increases. The faster, the more financial income.
For the nutritionist and professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Ronimara Santos, these apps can be the motivation that is missing for those who want to lose weight. «It depends on the format of the application. I believe that those who work with motivation in trying to establish a routine are very valid. For example, like when you win to go to the gym or to prepare your meals. Sometimes, it is the little push that is missing to overcome laziness «, he says.
In most applications available on the market today, body weight is the yardstick for getting the reward. For the nutritionist, this is not the fairest method of calculation. «We are going to work with the hypothesis of proposing a 4% weight loss in 28 days. What phase of weight loss is this person in? It is natural that, when we start a new diet and exercise routine, the weight will reduce a little faster in the first few weeks «, he explains.
According to Ronimara, this faster weight loss process at the beginning of a new dietary routine often reflects the loss of excess accumulated fluid and, not necessarily, fat. «The same reasoning applies to weight loss between men and women. In general, men are easier to lose weight than women due to hormonal factors and body composition. So, how to compare two people using the same metric? «, he asks.
Another important warning is that the use of apps that, in a certain way, pressure results, can feed or aggravate an eating disorder. For example, by encouraging daily weighing. The nutritionist, says she advises the practice to patients who seek her office.
Apps that push to lose weight can damage your relationship with food, nutritionist alert – Photo: Disclosure / Freepik
To better explain, Ronimara illustrates with the hypothetical case of a person who spent the day strictly complying with the rules of diet and exercise. However, when weighing in at the end of the day, the result can disrupt everything that was built. «She realizes that she has not lost weight and is upset. As she struggled and saw no results, she gives up and decides to compensate herself with food or stop exercising,» suggests the nutritionist. Another possibility is that this person will notice that, in fact, he has lost weight. «She is happy, so she decides that, over the weekend, she will even be able to eat more, since now she has a few extra pounds», imagines the nutritionist.
Finally, in a third scenario, the individual concludes that he «gained weight» in relation to the previous day, despite all the effort that was made. «He gains weight and is disappointed. He gives up and understands that it is not for him. In all these possibilities, the focus on one number did not really solve the issue of changing habits. It only fed the reward cycle. In addition, the weight alone does not say much: you may have lost weight because you are dehydrated, or you may have gained weight because you are doing weight training and increased muscle mass, for example «, ponders Ronimara.
The risks of financial reward
For Ronimara, despite the benefits that technology in general can bring, it is necessary to encourage other ways of measuring the result of the lifestyle change process. And that doesn’t necessarily involve making money. «Pain that you no longer feel, a good night’s sleep, regularization of bowel habits, reduction of tiredness, for example, are other ways of understanding that you are changing for the better», encourages the professional.
In addition to this, another important warning is what the ambition to pocket the prize can lead a person to do. «Money can trigger the use of extreme methods for weight loss, such as purges, prolonged unguided fasts and excessive physical exercise, which are not healthy practices for the body and contribute to the accordion effect», he reinforces.
Combining technology and health
But the relationship between technology and health doesn’t have to be bad. Quite the opposite. The nutritionist is an enthusiast of apps that can contribute to improving sleep, reducing stress, helping with personal organization and increasing productivity. But she stresses that apps can never replace a medical assessment, from a nutritionist or a physical educator.
Querida Ansiedade app brings options to promote relaxation and well-being – Photo: Eduardo Manhães / dnetc
dnetc has prepared a list of apps that, together with professional monitoring, can help you have a healthier routine. Look:
- White Noise: It allows you to choose between 16 types of sounds that can help you relax. You can still create and save combinations. It is ideal for those who have difficulty sleeping or concentrating on everyday tasks.
- Relax Melodies: Part of the same premise of the White Noise, having as a differential the possibility of combining sound noises with music. In addition, the app has the guided meditation feature for insomnia sufferers.
- Dear Anxiety: The proposal is to help control anxiety, with daily messages, videos and breathing and relaxation exercises. dnetc has already taught you step by step how to use the app.
- Exercises at home: The app offers series and training possibilities, which do not need the equipment of the gym. Although it does not replace a physical education professional, it can be a good alternative for those who want to vary the environment a little.
- Headspace: This is an application aimed purely at meditation. So far, it is not available in Portuguese. But do not worry! dnetc teaches you how to use.
And what is the best app you have on your phone? See the tips of users of the dnetc Forum and leave your opinion too!
? Want an app to find out how many calories you consume per day? So take a look at this dnetc tip:
How to know how many calories each food has with free app