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Corporate America Bets on Cash-Driven Employee Weight Loss Challenges to Battle the Bulge

Jan 3 2013 12:00AM

Marketwire

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NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 01/03/13 -- With the glut of U.S. workers contending with obesity and other chronic health troubles costing more than $153 billion annually in lost productivity from absenteeism, coupled with even more staggering productivity loss from the four-times more detrimental "Presenteeism," it's no wonder Corporate America has turned to innovative, outside-the-box competition-driven weight loss programs to better incent employee groups to battle the bulge, realize greater success with their diet and fitness endeavor, and win financial rewards in kind. Accordingly, HealthyWage.com, the industry-leading purveyor of financial incentive-based weight loss programs and contests for both businesses and individuals, today announced exponential client roster growth among companies, hospitals, health systems, insurers, school systems, municipal governments and other organizations, including Office Depot, Zales, 7-Eleven and others as listed below, that are successfully leveraging the spirit of competition and cash rewards to improve staff wellness, more effectively compel men to lose weight, and, in promoting these organization-wide behavioral changes, boost their own bottom lines.

"To date, HealthyWage.com has executed its popular $10,000 Team Weight Loss Challenge and/or other of its novel 'money motivation' diet and fitness programs, each as described below, for over 400 client organizations throughout the United States collectively employing more than one million employees," said David Roddenberry, CEO of HealthyWage.com. "This past year alone we've seen a surge in businesses, healthcare companies and school districts seeking to offer weight loss programs that will better engage and excite the staff and, ultimately, more successfully achieve health and overriding fiscal program goals. But, that's no surprise given multiple highly credible studies underscore the value of employing financial incentives and peer support to motivate weight loss. Our various tailored monetary incentive and team-based weight loss programs are helping employee groups get fit and healthy using a unique and proven effective motivation paradigm while concurrently helping organizations significantly stem staff health-related losses."

The following companies and organizations, among over 400 others, have participated in HealthyWage programs:

Corporate:

•Zales •Office Depot •7-Eleven •Phillips 66 •Joy Global

Healthcare - Eight of the largest twenty-five health systems in the United States including:

•Novant Health •Dignity Health •Continuum Health Partners

Education - Thirteen of the fifty largest School Districts in the United States, including:

•Houston, TX •Memphis, TN •Duval County, FL •Many public and private Universities

Roddenberry notes, "The success of the incentive-driven weight loss approach is exemplified by the experience of Kay and Rick Woolen, a married couple who participated in HealthyWage programs through their employer, Wake Forrest Baptist Medical Center. They lost more than a combined 130 pounds in 2012 and won more than $6,000 cash for their effort!"

HealthyWage is at the forefront of the health incentives trend -- efforts the company hopes will counter costly alternatives overweight and obese individuals will face up ahead. This includes the recent health care Affordable Care Act (Section 2705) bill stipulating that, starting in 2014, employers can use measures such as BMI to adjust employee health insurance premiums based on outcome-based wellness incentives by up to 30% -- up from the current 20% level. The economic impact of such measures will be significant given the high percentages of full-time U.S. workers who have less than ideal health, as reported by Employee Benefit News. In addition to weight, chronic health conditions that also drain worker productivity include a diagnosis of heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, and recurring physical pain in the back or knee or leg. The ripple effect of obesity is seemingly endless.

The Money Motivation Model
Through HealthyWage, employees can earn money losing weight through any diet and/or fitness program they choose to follow -- Weight Watchers®, Jenny Craig®, Nutrisystem®, Atkins®, or any other formal or informal diet/fitness regimen. The approach is so effective that HealthyWage collectively paid dieters over $450,000 cash in 2011 alone, and 2012 is forecasted to exceed this amount. No surprise given that HealthyWage is founded on research that proves cash rewards as much as triple the effectiveness of weight loss programs.

HealthyWage currently offers three distinct cash rewards-based diet programs that pay participants to successfully make healthy choices. The company's pioneering BMI Challenge pays $1,000 to those who invest $300 to participate and move from an obese BMI classification (greater than 30) to a normal BMI (less than 25) over a year's time, while following a few rules and checking in on a weekly basis. For those who prefer to participate in the BMI Challenge for free, without any up-front investment, HealthyWage offers the option to earn $100 for achieving these same term-based BMI goals. To date, approximately 25% of individuals who committed their own money have won the cash prize and achieved a healthy weight through this particular program. In fact, the company determined that participants who put their own money at risk are more than 10-times more likely to win the BMI Challenge.

HealthyWage also offers $10,000 Team Weight Loss competitions -- where participants compete in in teams of 5 for the greatest percentage of weight loss over a 3-month period. Each participant pays a $75 registration fee and weighs in at the beginning and end of the contest at a local health club or, alternatively, creates a private YouTube® video of themselves on the scale to verify their weight. The rules discourage unhealthful tactics by limiting the 12-week weight loss to 16.59 percent of starting body weight.

In addition to those participating at an individual level, large employers also join the $10,000 Team Weight Loss Challenge in a "Company vs. Company" division where they compete against other organizations to have their employees lose the greatest percentage weight. Participants in HealthyWage $10,000 team challenges have realized notable results, with median weight loss of 4.6 percent and more than 40 percent of participants losing over five percent of their body weight -- a clinically significant amount associated with improved health and lowered health care costs.

In addition, HealthyWage's "10% Challenge" program allows health-seekers nationwide to "bet" -- and profit -- on shedding their unwanted pounds. Through this program, participants pay $150 for an opportunity to double their money and earn $300 for losing just 10% of their starting body weight, BMI aside, within 6-months. Each participant's starting and ending weights are verified at one of thousands of HealthyWage health club partners throughout the U.S. or via private YouTube video, with each member also self-reporting their weight online once per week.

Those interested in learning about HealthyWage can visit www.HealthyWage.com.

About HealthyWage™
Health and wellness purveyor HealthyWage provides cash incentives, social and expert-based support, tools and resources, and goal-setting and tracking technologies to address our nation's obesity epidemic and improve America's collective health. The company was founded in response to academic research that proves even small cash rewards triple the effectiveness of weight-loss programs; that people are more effective at losing weight when their own money is at risk; and that social networks play a large role in the spread of obesity, and will likely play a large role in reversing obesity. Learn more online at www.HealthyWage.com.

Note to Editors: Individual and corporate contestants, health club participants (contest weigh-in locations), and/or a HealthyWage company executive available for interview.

Sources:
April 2012 Gallup-Healthways study: http://www.gallup.com/poll/150026/unhealthy-workers-absenteeism-costs-153-billion.aspx
Milken Institute: http://www.milkeninstitute.org/healthreform/pdf/AnUnhealthyAmericaExecSumm.pdf
Employee Benefits News: http://ebn.benefitnews.com/news/gallup-healthways-overweight-absenteeism-wellbeing-index-2718951-1.html



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Source: Marketwire


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