Weight Watchers Program for School Employees Takes Off

During the first three months, 6,157 school district employees participated in the new program

March 9, 2011 -- The Weight Watchers program launched by the Oregon Educators Benefit Board in October is taking off.
During the first three months, 6,157 school district employees participated, among them Matt Head, who teaches physical education at Yoshikai Elementary School in Salem. Head’s already lost 27 pounds.
“As a physical education teacher I know the benefits of exercise and eating healthy,” Head explained. “I don’t know why it took Weight Watchers to get me motivated. I wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t for the benefit. ”
When OEBB officials conducted a survey last year, 79 percent of respondents (11,931 completed the survey), knew about the weight management benefit, while 36 percent were using the benefit or intended to, and 43 percent expressed an interest.
Weight Watchers is offered at no cost to school employees and retirees. They can attend meetings in their community, participate at work or access the program online using interactive tools such as a weight tracker, progress chart, restaurant guide and other resources. In early December, "In early December, there were 214 at work meetings with another 7 in development.
Head’s convinced the benefits of weight loss and a more active lifestyle are a no brainer. “It’s something everyone (who is overweight) should do. I can’t believe that it’s taken insurance companies this long to figure out that when you make people less fat, it costs less money.”
By adding the Weight Watchers program, rate renewals increased by 0.63 percent for Kaiser, 0.38 percent for ODS and 0.64 percent for Providence.
Members are eligible for four programs (13 weeks each), but must show proof of participation in 10 of the 13 sessions to participate in a subsequent series. This requirement makes sense, Head said. “Why should the plan pay money for something they (the member) aren’t going to use?”  
Collectively, the teachers at Yoshikai have lost more than 400 pounds. “As a group, we’ve been really successful,” Head said. Even the students have noticed their teachers are losing weight and are getting healthier. “I know I’m setting an example,” he reflected.
Weight Watchers is the only weight-loss company with scientific research to demonstrate its efficacy, according to an independent review of commercial weight-loss programs published in the January 2005 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. While several studies have been conducted, the best known is a randomized, two-year, prospective, multi-center clinical trial comparing people attending Weight Watchers® meetings to those who followed a self-help diet regimen. People who attended Weight Watchers® meetings lost three times more weight than those who tried to lose weight on their own.


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Unfortunately, this is the only benefit that OEBB can promote with members that is seen of value. I guess it is worth it if you don't mind paying between $300 and $600 a month for your health benefits program through OEBB (employee contribution). PEBB has the same Weight Watchers benefit but the full time state employees don't contribute to their health benefit costs at all.