The Medical Center of Plano’s “Downsize Collin County” corporate weight-loss challenge culminates on Tuesday, May 24, with the presentation of a $5,000 check to the North Texas Food Bank.
Making the presentation will be Scott Flannery, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare of North Texas, a co-sponsor of the contest along with The Medical Center of Plano and the City of Plano. The Plano-based unit of UnitedHealthcare, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, pledged to donate to the food bank a specific amount for each pound lost by participants in the 12-week challenge.
“The Center for Lifestyle Enhancement at our hospital has had a great time organizing and orchestrating the first annual ‘Downsize Collin County,’” said Troy Villarreal, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of The Medical Center of Plano. “We pride ourselves on offering the community access not just to healthcare, but a healthy lifestyle overall, through creative initiatives like this weight-loss challenge.”
Downsize Collin County, which kicked off January 31, invited employers in the county to set up four-member teams that would vie to see which could lose the most weight. Adding extra spice to the competition was the opportunity to earn cash prizes.
Teams were assigned to categories according to their composition – all-female, all-male, and mixed (consisting of two women and two men). Contest entry fees of $25 per person were placed in a prize fund, which the hospital started with a $1,000 contribution of its own.
Initial and follow-up weigh-ins for Downsize Collin County took place at the City of Plano’s four community recreation centers. The Medical Center of Plano, in addition to its overall coordination of the challenge, was responsible for the weekly electronic distribution of educational material on diet, exercise, and other weight loss-related topics.
“Our emails and postings on the Downsize Collin County website reinforced the camaraderie and mutual accountability within the teams,” said Lisa Engel, director of The Medical Center of Plano’s Center for Lifestyle Enhancement. “Everything worked together in motivating the participants to take responsibility for the improvement of their overall health and quality of life.”
A total of 86 teams registered for Downsize Collin County, with 72 (or 83 percent) seeing it through to the final weigh-in. The aggregate number of pounds lost by the 344 individual participants was 2,885. In addition to the three sponsors, employers fielding teams included leading corporate citizens such as Cinemark, Fiserv, Photronics, the Plano Independent School District, and the Plano Star-Courier.
Contestants were ranked based on the percentage of decrease in their body weight during the 12 weeks of the challenge. The individual winner among the men was Plano firefighter Jeff Lindsey, who lost 29.41 percent of his body weight from the time of the initial weigh-in through April 18, when the challenge wrapped up. The female winner was Natalie Ingram, an employee of The Medical Center of Plano, who saw her body
weight drop by 21.32 percent. Lindsey and Ingram each received a $200 cash prize.
“My advice is to start out slow and build up from there,” said Ingram, who recently began competing in local 5K runs despite having been diagnosed last year with rheumatoid arthritis. “I’ve looked at it as not just a diet, but a complete change in lifestyle. My family has even begun its own vegetable garden this spring!”
Summarized below are the results for the top teams in the three categories. Team members will share in the proceeds of the prize fund according to a sliding scale.
Women in Pink (The Medical Center of Plano) – 8.81 percent
Droppin Divas – 7.81 percent
Bowman Lady Raiders – 6.77 percent
Pride of Old Towne 1A (City of Plano Firefighters) – 24.96 percent
Sargent Will – 16.14 percent
Chunky Monkeys – 15.91 percent
Los Gordos (City of Plano Police Officers) – 14.08 percent
Team XD-Extreme Dieters – 10.13 percent
Travelers – 8.04 percent
Downsize Collin County represents an innovative approach by The Medical Center of Plano to helping combat one of America’s most serious public health problems – the well-documented epidemic of obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is the nation’s second-leading cause of preventable death. An estimated 60 million Americans age 20 years and older are classified as obese. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of health conditions and diseases ranging from breast cancer, coronary heart disease, and Type II diabetes, to sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, hypertension, and stroke.
Workdays lost to obesity-related causes totaled an estimated 39.3 million last year, with some 62.7 million physician-office visits attributable to obesity.