County Government Weight-Loss Program Deemed a Success


(Saturday, December 16, 2006 9:00 AM EST)

Don't be surprised to see Arlington County government employees looking a bit trimmer.

The county government recently introduced a health-incentive competition called “Local Motion” to its workers, and had very successful results.

“It's really increased employees' awareness about health choices,” said Marcy Foster, the county government's. “It will really change people's behaviors.”

Local Motion was created as part of the HealthSmart Arlington County Employee Wellness Program, and challenged workers to participate in teams to get healthy, offering prizes for positive results.

“This is the first time we've done it, and it went beyond our expectations from the beginning,” Foster said.

Program officials monitored the 450 participants' health progress through before-and-after measurements of height, weight, hydration, blood pressure, pulse and cardiovascular capability.

The 12-week program ended just before Thanksgiving, and coordinators hope to offer it again next year.

Prizes were awarded based on either the number of miles covered (any physical activity could be converted into mileage) or percentage of total weight loss. A winning team was chosen for each category, as were an individual male and female.

Competitors paid $40 to participate in the program, a fee that helped fund prizes. Prize offerings ranged from free hotel stays to DVD players to bicycles.

The police department's team had the greatest percentage of pounds shed, with a 6.63-percent average weight loss.

Elizabeth Louie, the individual female winner for greatest percentage of weight lost, found herself 25 pounds slimmer at the end of the competition, losing 13.33 percent of her body weight.

“I enjoyed the program very much,” said Louie. “Everybody encouraged each other to exercise.”

“We would recommend it to everybody,” said Foster.

County Board members have intimated that health of the local population as a whole will be one of their priorities for 2007.

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