Call it Royal Oak's Biggest Loser competition, but for employees at City Hall set on losing some weight and improving their health in the new year, all of the participants are winners.
This month, Stephanie Secontine, M.S., R.D., a clinical dietitian at the Ministrelli Women’s Heart Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, will help kick off a new weight loss contest with employees of the City of Royal Oak. On Jan. 24, Secontine will speak to the staff about good nutrition habits and weight loss.
Challenge is a weighty one
"Wellness programs have many important benefits. The most obvious is they can help employees become healthier and often happier. City employees dedicate their lives to public service, and creating a culture that supports their health and wellbeing is essential," Stewart Meek, assistant to the City Manager told members of the Royal Oak City Commission in September.
Meek sought and won the table's approval to establish an Employee Health and Wellness Committee. The program comes at no cost to taxpayers.
"In addition to helping employees become healthier, wellness programs can improve morale, culture, productivity, time away from work and reduce stress, and on the job injuries," Meek said.
Meek pointed to the City of Ferndale’s wellness initiatives as an example. Ferndale city employees have access to two exercise facilities (the Ferndale Police Department gym and the Kulick Community Center) and a Weight Watchers at Work program that spouse may participate in, too.
In 2013, Ferndale had 30 employees lose a combined total of 945 pounds for an average of over 30 pounds per person, Meek said.
"Sixty-three percent of (Ferndale's Weight Watchers at Work) participants reported having eliminated or avoided the need for certain blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes medications," Meek said.
Ferndale Police Detective John Thul, who lost almost 60 pounds, told the Detroit Free Press, “I work out about an hour and a half every day. I am actually stronger now and fitter now than when I went to the police academy."
Ferndale estimated its Weight Watchers at Work program saved the city over $130,000 in prescription costs, Meek said.