If shedding the holiday poundage tops your New Year's resolution list and you happen to live in Colorado, one health insurance company will make it worth your while to be the biggest loser.
Taking its cue from the popular fat-burning TV series, Kaiser Permanente Colorado's new "Weigh and Win" program offers cash to all adult Coloradans who lose the LBs and keep them off.
Kaiser spent $500,000 to install 12 kiosks with scales and video cameras at libraries, medical facilities, recreation centers and even a furniture store (they're talking to you, La-Z-Boy!) to record the progress of participants. Those who lose weight and keep it off can earn between $15 and $150 every three months.
About 8,900 Coloradans have participated in the program, which debuted last April. Their average weight loss? About 12 pounds.
Unlike similar employer-sponsored shape-up programs, Kaiser's Weigh and Win is one of the first programs of its kind open to all adult state residents willing to slim down. The insurer hopes to encourage other health care groups and municipalities to join the program.
"Weight loss is as effective as mammograms or colon cancer screenings or blood pressure control when you speak about the amount of dollars you spend for the life years you gain from the program," says Dr. Eric France, who heads up the Weight and Win program. "From the medical perspective, losing about 5 percent body weight is considered valuable and helpful."
Pediatrics nurse practitioner Tanya Amaro joined the program last May after her own weight loss efforts reached a plateau. Since then, she's lost 37 pounds and earned $75 by using the program's grocery shopping lists, low-fat recipes and workout regime with a personal trainer assigned to her by the program.
"It's pretty cool," she told the AP. "Not just that I need to walk or I need to run. I knew that stuff, you know; that's commonsense stuff," she said. "It actually tells you how to do it, when to do it. You get text messages on your phone."
Dr. France says there's no magic pill for obesity.
"It's not really a medical solution to obesity problems, the obesity epidemic," he says. "It has to be a community solution. It's about access to good food, it's access to places to exercise, places to ride your bicycle, use transit, policies at school, policies at work and opportunities to have supportive programs to help you lose weight."
Hats off to Kaiser for throwing down on what doctors predict will be the epidemic of the century here in these Estados Unidos. I hope that federal, state and local governments, major corporations, health insurance companies and care providers will climb on board as well. From all indications, a dollar spent today to fight obesity will save hundreds tomorrow trying to treat its devastating effects.
How about you? Would you shed pounds for the money?
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