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January 14, 2011
What Have You Got to Lose? Plenty, Says Weight Watchers® at Work

If you’re looking for a health and wellness benefit that offers considerable potential without a huge financial investment, you might want to consider Weight Watchers at Work.

According to National Sales Manager Deborah Francis, more than 10,000 companies have hosted Weight Watchers meetings at their places of business over the past two decades.

Francis says the program makes good sense for employers and the employees they care about. “Research shows that people who attend meetings lose three times more weight than those who diet on their own,” she suggests.

With so many Americans spending so much of their time on the job, the workplace “is truly an ideal setting for employees to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle,” she added.

Convenience and Support

The at-work version of the iconic weight loss program started by New York housewife Jean Nidetch in 1961 is “turnkey” for employers. Employers provide a meeting place and trained Weight Watchers personnel conduct the weekly, hour-long sessions.

The program is in place at “every kind of business you can imagine.” That includes manufacturing plants, communications companies, schools, hospitals, and insurance companies, among many others.

“Our leaders are lifetime members, which means they are at their goal weight and have experienced exactly what they are delivering in that meeting room,” Francis explains.

Typical topics include portion control, making wiser food choices, smarter shopping, and integrating activity into daily life. There is also a confidential weigh-in and group support, which Francis calls “a proven advantage.” The program targets a healthy weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Some employers subsidize the cost of membership while employees are on their own at other companies. “We find that when a company offers [financial] support, it helps reduce the barrier to entry and helps the employee feel that their employer cares about them.”

Francis says many businesses pay 50 percent or more and consider it part of their employee benefits package.

Members who cannot attend at work often turn to, where a robust online program is available. The site includes recipes, fitness tips, success stories, and much more.

A Culture of Health

There’s never been a better time to help employees get healthier by losing weight.

Francis points out that overweight is not just a factor in conditions like diabetes and heart disease. ­It can also contribute to:

  • Back problems,
  • Hip and knee ailments, and
  • Other conditions that are costly for employers.

“Seventy percent of the U.S. population is either overweight or obese. Life happens, and no matter what type of business you’re in, we try to make it as convenient as possible,” says Francis.

Weight Watchers partners with participating companies to help create “a culture of health.” That can mean providing posters and flyers for the cafeteria, working with cafeterias to provide information and healthy options, or sponsoring a walking program.

In November, Weight Watchers announced PointsPlus, a restructured point system intended to make it even easier to follow and use the program.

One significant change is that all fruits and most vegetables are now zero points, which means they don’t contribute to the daily point total.

To learn more about Weight Watchers at Work, call 800-AT-WORK (828-9675).

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