What if shedding pounds through a workplace wellness program paid off with a reloadable Visa Prepaid Debit Card along with blue jeans that comfortably button?

Longmont’s largest employer, the St. Vrain Valley School District, aims to find out without spending a cent of taxpayer money.

On Tuesday, it hosted an open house at its main office, the Educational Services Center, 395 S. Pratt Pkwy. in Longmont, to unveil the Weigh and Win kiosk used voluntarily every quarter by participants for weigh-ins and full body selfies.

Four other kiosks will rotate weekly through teacher lounges across the district’s 52 schools to give this 4,700-member workforce a novel way to pursue and track the impact of healthy eating and active living habits, said Victoria Walston, the district’s accounting technician for financial services.

Local kiosk locations

Longmont Public Library, 409 Fourth Ave, Longmont

Good Samaritan Medical Center & Kaiser Permanente Rock Creek, 200 Exempla Circle, Lafayette

Bob L. Burger Recreation Center, 111 W. Baseline Road, Lafayette

YMCA of Boulder Valley, 2800 Dagny Way, Lafayette

North Boulder Recreation Center, 3170 Broadway, Boulder

Carbon Valley Library, 7 Park Ave., Firestone

For more information, visit www.WeighandWin.com

Earlier this month, she attended an all day symposium in Golden with representatives from the city of Longmont and LiveWell Longmont to explore the potential benefits of giving employees a cash carrot, prizes and online support to cultivate healthier habits on Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s dime.

The nation’s largest health maintenance organization’s nonprofit status requires that it invest a percentage of annual earnings into health-related community benefit programs. So, in May 2011, it launched the free Weigh and Win program in partnership with Denver-based technology company IncentaHealth to tip the scales more favorably for Coloradans.

Fresh support needed

Though ranked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the leanest state, Colorado’s adult obesity rate is 20.9 percent. Ironically, what makes it the leanest state today would qualify it with CDC obesity trend watchers as the “fattest” state in 1995.

The Colorado Health Foundation estimates that employers and employees here could save an estimated $228.9 million in annual health care costs if residents returned to the lower obesity rates reported in the mid-1990s.

To this end, Weigh and Win statistics show progress at workplaces and community centers statewide.

“Every dollar invested in promoting healthier living saves $3.42 in health-related costs,” said Lia Schoepke, Weigh and Win’s program manager.

The payout to participating Coloradans since Weigh and Win launched in May 2011 surpassed $380,000 recently with a total 215,000-plus pounds shed.

Later this month, Weigh and Win will install its 85th and 86th kiosk in Yuma and Glenwood Springs, respectively. Six other local venues besides SVVSD now offer kiosks (see information box).

But only participants with a body mass index —a calculation of height and weight to estimate body fat — of 25 percent or higher qualify for the cash reward program paid out after quarterly weigh-ins.

Wellness Team member Victoria Walston stands on the Weigh and Win scale at the St. Vrain Valley School District’s Educational Center.

Wellness Team member Victoria Walston stands on the Weigh and Win scale at the St. Vrain Valley School District’s Educational Center. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

If a participant loses 5 percent of his or her body weight in the first quarter (90 days) in the program, Kaiser Permanente will mail a $15 cash card that can be used like a debit card and electronically reloaded with every improvement thereafter. Those who lose 10 percent of their body weight earn $30; a 15 percent weight loss amounts to $45; a 20 percent weight loss nets $75; a 25 percent weight loss fetches $105; and a 30 percent weight loss wins $150, according to the Weigh and Win website.

The average program participant is a 44-year-old woman with a 35 BMI, Schoepke said.

“So, we know that the people that need to be engaged are engaged,” she said.

Getting started 

Success stories include participants such as Commerce City resident Carletta Alber. Through Weigh and Win, she lost 180 pounds to earn $565.

To begin the program, which is open to both Kaiser Permanente members and nonmembers age 18 or older, participants visit a kiosk — a private area about 10 feet long and 3 feet wide — to step on a digital scale and get a full body photo taken.

Participants can sign up for daily emails and text messages that include standard health information and some interesting cultural tidbits, such as how many ounces and calories were in the original 7-Eleven Big Gulp drink and how many are in it now.

The city of Longmont in June 2012 partnered with LiveWell Longmont and the Weigh and Win program to install a kiosk at the Longmont Public Library. Besides providing centralized easy access to its employees, the city aimed to make the kiosk more accessible to the community.

“Moving forward, how do we think about how this resource, this kiosk, can complement the services other people may be needing?” Karen Roney, the city’s community services director, said during a Weigh and Win symposium break.

She noted that the library already keeps health and fitness-related books and DVDs near the display.

But perhaps the city could make the kiosk more of an access point for other services, Roney said.

Erika Wey, LiveWell Longmont’s Worksite Wellness Coordinator, also attended the symposium and noted that she plans on encouraging employers to tap into Weigh and Win to strengthen community, not just individuals.

Already she wonders if the kiosks unused by the district during the summer months might be loaned to residents in the Longmont Housing Partners program.

One symposium speaker celebrated that vision and shared data that supports how healthy living across a community benefits one and all.

“Ultimately, one’s sense of well being plays a critical role in the degree to which one participates in society,” said Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis, vice president of government, external relations and research for Kaiser Permanente Colorado.

Walston noted that the SVVSD cannot welcome the public to use its new Weigh and Win kiosks due to school security concerns.

However, the district welcomes student parents to participate with teachers and staff.

“Some of the kids are already involved in 100 Mile Club at school. I think it works both ways in that parents think, ‘If my kids want to be healthy, I want to be healthy,'” she said. “I think it’s a two-way street.”

Pam Mellskog can be reached at p.mellskog@gmail.com or at 303-746-0942303-746-0942