Employees lose 9,467 lbs during £ for lb challenge
1,620 employees from 36 companies across Northern Ireland have been tackling their weight and changing their lifestyles, supported by their employers who took part in Business in the Community’s £ for lb 12 week Challenge.
Collectively, the employees lost 9,467 lbs (676 stone) – this equates to the weight of 52 average-sized UK men, or more than the weight of the average killer whale! In total, participants lost 1,509 waist inches which is almost the same height as Victoria Square.
The £ for lb 12 Week Challenge is a work-based weight loss programme that aims to encourage employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The Challenge – which is currently in its third year – is supported by Westfield Health and the Public Health Agency (PHA).
The overall winning company was Seagate Technology, with employees losing an incredible 2,476 lbs and 407 waist inches collectively.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride offered his support for the scheme, saying: “This engaging programme is not just about obesity or trying to lose weight. The £ for lb 12 Week Challenge helps focus people’s minds on participating in more physical activity and eating a healthier, balanced diet. It provides opportunities to build new social relationships and to harness the support of like-minded people. This in turn can be reflected back into the working environment with improved concentration and communication amongst staff.
“The programme can motivate people to learn new skills in the kitchen, to try new foods and to make healthier and more nutritious decisions. It can inspire new walking routes for groups, or encourage people to try out different kinds of sport or leisure activities. Also vitally, what has been learnt in the workplace can also be brought home into the family environment, where the challenge can continue.”
Dr Tracy Owen, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said: “Maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult, with so many forces in society making it easy to put on the pounds. The £ for lb challenge is an excellent example of practical support to help behaviour change in the workplace. Each of the participants has shown great commitment to getting on the path to better health and wellbeing.
“Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing a range of health problems including heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes. By making small changes in our daily lives, such as eating a healthier diet and improving our level of physical activity we can help maintain a healthy weight.”
Amy Kieran from Business in the Community added: “The average employee spends 70% of their waking hours in the workplace, making it the ideal setting to encourage healthy behaviours and promote positive lifestyle choices. With one out of four adults in Northern Ireland now considered obese, it is vital that employers take steps to help address the issue. Prioritising health and wellbeing in the workplace has considerable benefits for both employees and employers, with improved morale and increased productivity just two valuable outcomes.
“The ‘£ for lb Challenge’ is not a short-term fix – it aims to make an impact beyond the 12 weeks of the programme, inspiring employees to make positive and sustainable long-term changes that benefit their own health and wellbeing and that of their families and friends. The support of both the Public Health Agency and Westfield Health has been key in ensuring the continued success of this initiative.”
Lorraine Milne, Senior Business Development Consultant, Westfield Health, said: “I’m proud to say that Westfield Health has sponsored the £ for lb weight loss challenge for three years running now, and it is something that we are extremely passionate about.
“At Westfield Health we recently undertook a survey which found that over half of British workers do not get up from their desk at all during a working day, apart from going to the toilet. 60% of British workers spend most of their day sitting down and over half of us don’t even stretch our legs at lunchtime.
“It takes decisive action to tackle such a big problem, and this begins with confronting all the unhealthy habits that lead to inactivity in the workplace.
“The £ for lb Challenge is a wonderful approach to this. It is an innovative and practical scheme which not only helps those individuals looking to make lifestyle changes and lead healthier lives, but importantly it helps so many others too.”
The 2016 £ for lb challenge raised over £17,000 for a range of Northern Ireland charities.
For more information on the £ for lb Challenge, visit www.bitcni.org.uk
Participating companies in 2016 are: Allstate Northern Ireland, Apex Housing, Bank of Ireland, B/E Aerospace, Belfast International Airport, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, BT, Business in the Community, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, Co-ownership Housing, DuPont, Encirc, Equality Commission NI, firmus energy, firstsource, Fold Housing Association, Gilbert-Ash, Greiner Packaging, Heron Bros Ltd, Hutchinson Care Homes, J P Corry Group Ltd, P & O Ferries, Michelin Tyres plc, National Museums Northern Ireland, NI Audit Office, Northstone, NuPrint, Phoenix Natural Gas, Probation Board for Northern Ireland, PwC, Queen’s University, Belfast, Seagate Technology, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Survitec Group, Tourism Northern Ireland and TotalMobile Ltd.