New weight-loss kiosks show dieters the money in Firestone, Lafayette
By Pam Mellskog Longmont Times-Call
LAFAYETTE — Losing weight a new way turned Lisa Gomez into a gold digger of sorts.
She stepped into the new Weigh and Win kiosk at the Bob L. Burger Recreation Center at 111 W. Baseline Road in Lafayette on May 31, on its first day of operation, to try to win a cash reward for every 5 percent of body weight she sheds.
“The money is a motivator,” she said, laughing. “Anyone can use the extra 15 or 30 bucks while trying to get in shape.”
Health management organization Kaiser Permanente decided to sponsor the free pilot program in Colorado in partnership with Denver-based technology company IncentaHealth. That’s because every dollar invested in promoting healthier living saves $4 in health-related costs, said Katie Hamilton, the Weigh and Win program manager.
To begin the free weight loss program, which is open to both Kaiser Permanente members and nonmembers age 18 or older, participants must enter one of 11 kiosks — each one is about 10 feet long and 3 feet wide — installed around the state, step on a digital scale and get a full body photo shot.
Those 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.
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. Those who lose 10 percent of their body weight in the first quarter earn $30; a 15 percent weight loss amounts to $45.
“The next three increments go up from there,” Hamilton said.
Participants who lose 20 percent of body weight get $75; a 25 percent weight loss nets $105 and a 30 percent weight loss earns $150, she said.
“But we pay them to maintain, too,” Hamilton continued. “If someone loses 5 percent in the first quarter and doesn’t lose anything in the second quarter, but they maintain that initial 5 percent weight loss, we will pay them $15 again at the end of the second quarter,” she said.
After issuing the first cash rewards card by mail, Kaiser Permanente can keep adding money electronically to the card without ever physically touching it again, she said.
Those with a body mass index under 25 percent do not qualify for a cash reward, but may qualify for prizes.
Participants use the kiosk only as a place to get weighed and photographed.
The rest of the program is online at weighandwin.com and includes an archive of previous weights and photographs, a progress chart, meal plans, printable grocery shopping lists, exercise information and more.
Gomez, 42, also noted that 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.
Kaiser Permanente’s nonprofit status requires that it invest a percentage of annual earnings in health-related community programs.
The organization spent about $450,000 opening a dozen kiosks statewide since Feb. 23. The kiosk inside the Carbon Valley Library, 7 Park Ave., Firestone, was first; the final kiosk is to be installed on Aug. 31 in Alamosa, Hamilton said.
Gomez acknowledges that those unfamiliar with all of the program’s benefits might find the cash reward aspect a little gimmicky.
But with 20 percent of her body weight to lose and 2.81 percent of it shed already, the finance clerk with seven photographs and scale readings in the system said she feels motivated for the long haul.
“Remember, it’s a free program, so you have nothing to lose but the weight,” she said. “And I’m excited about earning a cash reward. If I lose 5 percent of my weight in the next quarter, I’ve got $15 extra. That won’t be enough for a new blouse. But it’s enough to justify buying one, at least for me it is anyways.”