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Wegmans' Employee Health Challenge Nets 'Remarkable Results'

ROCHESTER, NY -- Wegmans Inc. has been encouraging its associates to participate in an "Eat Well, Live Well Challenge" created to increase their awareness about the need to incorporate health-oriented activities such as exercise and consuming good food into their everyday lives.

Thus far, nearly 10,000 employees have enrolled in the eight-week challenge, which was launched in 2003. The retailer reported that results from the challenge have been remarkable, as many participating associates have increased their stamina and overall fitness as health risk factors went down. Employees with elevated cholesterol or blood pressure readings experienced marked declines, for example.

The program invites employees to track two factors daily for eight weeks: physical activity and how much fruits and vegetables they eat. Although weight loss is not explicitly part of the contest, the new healthy habits and peer support encouraged by the program have helped some workers peel off the pounds and keep them off, while improving their overall heath profile, the company said.

For example, a cashier lost 100 pounds, a cheese department manager 74 pounds, a deli manager 78 pounds, and a grocery manager lost 50 pounds and improved his cholesterol level from 242 to 161. A deli manager, at risk for diabetes, lowered her blood pressure and cholesterol while also dropping 25 pounds.

In a report of the program posted on the retailer's Web site, one employee who used a pedometer to track physical activity levels said, "When I started the challenge, I was averaging 2,500 steps per day. As of this week my average is over 10,000 steps per day. My back is stronger and I am off pain medication. And I even lost weight."

The challenge has led some participants to adopt healthier habits on a long-term basis, Wegmans said. Some of these individuals have maintained health improvements and weight losses for more than a year.

While the Eat Well Live Well Challenge is a program for employees, Wegmans also has a similar effort, Eat Well Live Well, established for customers, with menu ideas, recipes, tips, and cooking techniques featured in the Winter 2005 issue of Wegmans Menu Magazine, and on
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