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Nathan Hale Sentinel

SPS encourages weight loss through HealthyWage program

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Healthy Wage offers a chance to win big for losing weight.

“Are you ready to win cash and other prizes by losing weight?”
This is the first sentence from an email that went out around mid to late afternoon, January 12th to every employee in the Seattle School District. The email goes on to reveal that SPS is encouraging their employees to “participate in a three-month Weight Loss Challenge,” starting on the 29th. And what is the reward for the team that has greatest percentage weight loss? $15,000.
Since HealthyWage started up in the spring of 2008 their challenge has begun with participants forming teams of five. They then pay an entry fee of $70 to enter. The company says “about 30% of those who start get their initial deposit back for losing at least 10% of their weight after nine months.”
They require verifications at the beginning and end of the challenge. Participants must make a video of them being weighed on a scale or they visit a school nurse, local health club, etc..
Stefanie Arneson, the photography teacher here at Hale, cites her pants as the reason she decided to join.
“The pants that I used to wear do not fit me anymore and I’m a rather tall person so it’s hard for me to find pants that are long enough. And I’m upset that there are bunch of pants that are in my closet and they’re too tight on me,” says Arneson with a chuckle.
Co-founder David Roddenberry told the Sentinel that their “company-wide goal is to reverse America’s obesity epidemic.”
“The portion of Americans who are overweight and obese has increased markedly over the last 30 years. We’d like to help reverse this trend with effective evidence-based solutions.”
Roddenberry said that the company is continuing to encourage healthy lifestyle choices through social and financial incentives whilst looking toward new products that pay you for being active.
A Journal of the American Medical Association study found that people who were financially incentivised to lose weight lost significantly more weight than the study’s control group which, According to Roddenberry, most HealthyWage participants manage to lose “at least some weight.”
Ben Carnes; a teacher from Westfield Indiana (who lost 100 pounds with the help of HealthyWage) told National Public Radio reporters that he “knew that if I put money on the line, it [would be] a double-motivating thing…I didn’t want to lose the money I was putting in… [and] my wife and I agreed that if I won, I got to spend it on anything I wanted.”
“People are motivated by immediate awards,” said Mitesh Patel of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at University of Pennsylvania in the same NPR article.
However, Ms. Arneson says that she “hates that aspect of it.”
“To tell you the truth I’m not planning on getting my money back… there are prizes involved to and none of that appeals to me. The thing that appeals to me is the community of it, of having a team that will support each other, I think it will be more fun and to have support… but also being held accountable to other people.”
With 34.9% (that’s 78.6 million) of Americans over the age of eighteen obese HealthyWage is making an attempt to fight the obesity epidemic.


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