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Hospital CEOs Put Weight Behind Losing Effort

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 30, 2012

There is much to like about this contest.

We know about the problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. In Iowa, the CDC reports that one in four people is obese. The misery and cost of treating obesity-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardio-vascular issues, and bone and joint damage are staggering.

And it affects just about everybody everywhere. In fact, there is some evidence that overweight and obesity are more prevalent among healthcare workers than in the general public. A recent study in Journal of Nursing Administration examined survey data from 2,103 female nurses and determined that 55% of them are obese.

By putting themselves on display in a weight loss contest, Peebles and Thoreen have personalized and de-stigmatized obesity and overweight in a way that will encourage others to examine and change their own unhealthy habits.

The two CEOs are telling the world how much they weigh. Many people would be mortified to publically divulge that information about themselves. This simple act by two well-known community leaders is as disarming as it is empowering.

Acknowledging that you are overweight is the first step in addressing the problem. An honest self-assessment is often accompanied by a will to change. As the saying goes, you can't manage what you can't measure. 

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