Get ready for second

Get ready for second ‘UST Weight-Loss Challenge’

The biggest losers will be the biggest winners in a second round of the “UST Weight Loss Challenge” that starts next month.

The “UST Weight-Loss Challenge” is sponsored by the university’s Human Resources Department and is based on the NBC television program “The Biggest Loser.”

In the first Weight-Loss Challenge, Michael Elwell of St. Thomas’ Physical Plant Services department, was the biggest loser. The sometime-professional Santa lost 31 pounds and 11.6 percent of his body fat. Laurie Dimond of the Theology Department took second, losing 10 pounds and 10.6 percent of her body fat. And Sandra Prince-Black of the College of Business won third-place honors. She lost 21 pounds and 10 percent of her body fat.

This fall’s contest again will be conducted in coordination with LifeTime Fitness Corp. Sixteen to 18 staff or faculty members will be chosen to participate in an eight-week weight-loss contest to see who can lose the largest percentage of weight. First place wins $500, second place wins $250 and third place wins $150.

Each participant will participate in three personal-training sessions per week at a LifeTime facility in Eagan or Woodbury. They also will meet with a nutrition coach for a half hour each week.

Participants must attend all sessions, and missing more than two will result in disqualification. Each will receive a monthly lifestyle journal to track their progress and will have free use of LifeTime facilities for two months, which includes child care if needed.

Staff and faculty can learn more about the contest at information sessions next week:

  • Noon-1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28, in Room 150, Owens Science Hall, St. Paul campus
  • Noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, in Room 301 of Terrence Murphy Hall, Minneapolis campus.

Interested employees are encouraged to complete the application available online. Completed and signed applications are due at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, in the Human Resources Department, Mail # AQU217. The applications will be reviewed by Human Resources and LifeTime staff members to select the 16 to 18 contestants. They will be selected Sept. 10, and the contest will run from Sept. 18 to Nov. 10. A body-composition test and weigh-in will be held at the start, at six weeks, and at the end. A ceremony will be held Nov. 15 to announce the results.

At least statistically, St. Thomas could gain a lot if employees lost a lot, or even some.

The combination of physical inactivity and obesity is the second-leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and, according to Peter Ronza, the compensation and benefits manager for Human Resources, this represents a huge economic burden to employers.

According to the American Public Health Association and the United Health Foundation, the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. population has risen from 11.6 percent in 1990 to 23.1 percent in 2005.

Obesity, Ronza said, is linked to higher risk for a range of illnesses that include high blood pressure, heart disease, type-two diabetes and cancer. Millions of lost work days and doctor visits are linked to obesity, and obese employees, nationally, cost 52 percent more in annual health care costs compared to healthy-weight employees.