Losing it in Lake County Featured

10:27am EDT February 24, 2005
Lake Hospital System reports that more than 68 percent of people in Lake County are considered overweight, obese or severely obese. That's why the hospital joined the Lake County General Health District, Lake Metroparks and Lake County YMCA for the Get Healthy Lake County Weight Loss Challenge, which runs until June.

Mentor-based Wiseco Piston, a manufacturer of forged pistons for the snowmobile, motorcycle, ATV, personal watercraft, outboard marine and automotive markets, is paying the Challenge membership fees of its employees. At press time, 52 of its 298 employees were registered.

Brian Berney, Wiseco's vice president and general manager, says companies should encourage employee participation in programs like this "because it's the right thing to do." Wiseco regularly supports employee health programs, including a fund-raising bowling team and cholesterol checks.

"You have a lot of people under your care, and they don't always have time to work on these programs themselves," he says. "Some people's work here can be somewhat sedentary. ... That doesn't necessarily promote good health, so to spur them on to be better for themselves, we need to take the lead in it."

The Challenge includes an initial weigh-in and body mass index measurement, blood pressure screening, starter kit, bimonthly weight loss tips via e-mail, e-mail access to a registered dietician, membership to the 10,000 Steps program and admission to a health lecture series.

Berney says Wiseco employees who achieve their weight loss goal by June will be entered into a drawing to win a free one-year membership to a gym of their choice or other incentives.

"These people are our associates; they're our friends, and we want to help them be as good as they can be. A secondary benefit might be ... that you have healthier employees who are happier on the job and more productive," he says.

"Even the third benefit -- we don't know if this is true or not -- but after a period of time, we intend to go to the insurance companies and see if they won't allow some kind of discount for us having a healthier overall work force. ... That's something in the back of our minds but (the primary benefit) is just having healthier friends."