Businesses weigh in on weight bet

It’s time for the Warren County Corporate Weight Loss Challenge.

Competitors from six local employers will face off to take the weight off.

Each participating business – Blair, Northwest Savings Bank, Rouse Estates, Superior Tire and Rubber, Warren General Hospital, and Whirley Drinkworks! – will put $500 into the pot.

The participant who loses the most weight, by percentage, will take home $500. Second and third receive $400 and $300, respectively, and fourth through 15th receive $100. Aside from the top 15 places, the person at each business who loses the most will receive $100.

The 500 or so participants in last year’s challenge lost an average of almost seven pounds for a total of 3,450.2 pounds.

According to Dave Engstrom, one of the organizers of the event, follow-ups show that about two-thirds of the participants have kept the weight off. That’s a major part of the program.

“The goal is to help people make healthier decisions, drop the obesity rate, motivate them to keep it off, and show them how to keep it off sensibly,” he said. “Diets don’t work. It’s all about making lifestyle changes.”

“We advocate exercise and healthy eating,” Engstrom said. “Healthy eating is fruits and vegetables, lean protein – chicken, turkey, fish – and whole grains. Not healthy eating is empty calories, junk food, fast food, soft drinks.”

He said there are many people with unrealistic expectations on body image. “People think healthy is what they see on the cover of a magazine. ‘I’m never going to get there.'”

Engstrom recommends a reasonable goal. “Lose 10 pounds,” he said. “Ten pounds is a good goal.”

He said the benefits of even that amount of weight loss include an increase in life expectancy, decreased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and lower blood pressure.

The program kicks off with an initial weigh-in during the week of Jan. 6 and will run through April 4.

Thermometer posters at the employers will allow participants and the public to follow along.

There could be even more participating companies in the future, and organizers hope that small businesses will be able to band together to increase participation.

“We’re going to continue to grow this as big as we can,” Engstrom said.