Local businesses offer weight-loss programs - Lexington Herald Leader

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Some Lexington-based employers are offering weight-loss programs.

At Kentucky Utilities, spokesman Cliff Feltham said the utility has the "WellFit" program, which emphasizes awareness and education for health and disease prevention.

"Our philosophy is that we feel like we would better have our employees being proactive in taking care of their health," he said.

In addition to screenings and education programs, the utility offers an incentive program for employees who join an approved fitness center or accredited weight-loss program. Employees and their spouses are reimbursed as much as 50 percent of the monthly fee. He said there currently are no companywide health-related contests, but individual departments often run programs.

It gets employees thinking about their health, Feltham said. It's a pretty dry subject if incentives aren't attached to the program, he said.

The University of Kentucky has a contest called "Get Moving." To enter, employees team up by department and track their nutrition and exercise. Prizes are awarded to those who total at least 1,500 minutes of activity by Dec. 13, according to the UK Web site. In addition to competing against other departments, the teams are competing against the University of Louisville. A similar contest was held in the summer, and UK won.

"These programs are intended to benefit the organization in some way, but they are also intended to benefit the employee," said UK's Work-Life Program director, Robynn Pease. "Employees are not only healthier and using health care less but they're also more productive and more engaged."

UK also offers reimbursement for health program costs, gym access and behavioral therapy.

Tempur-Pedic, based in Lexington, has similar programs. In addition to an annual health and wellness fair that includes access to experts and screenings, the company offers a $50 quarterly bonus to employees who exercise regularly. About half of Tempur-Pedic employees participate in these programs. Additionally, Tempur-Pedic had a step contest that led 478 American and Canadian employees (and their families) to burn 8,850,000 calories over an eight-week period. T-shirts were awarded to the employees at certain milestones, and the winner of the step contest got two round-trip plane tickets to anywhere in the continental United States.

Blood-Horse Publications just finished a three-month walking step contest in which participants were given pedometers to track their steps. Mary Baxter, who works for human resources, said the company had contemplated a smoke-cessation incentive program, but "we've just never gone ahead and done it," she said.

18 Oct, 2011

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