Kirstie Alley, Valerie Bertinelli and some new/old ideas about weight loss

TV actresses Kirstie Alley and Valerie Bertinelli have both been in the news recently because of their continuing, up-and-down struggles with maintaining healthy body weights. As we’ve said before, celebrities are often role models for the rest of us because their fame focuses attention on conditions that may affect us all.

There was an interesting article in the New York Times this morning describing some new ways to incentivize healthy habits. The article cites some research done by Steven D. Pearson and Sarah R. Lieber at the U.S. National Institutes of Health exploring ethical guidelines for holding employees responsible for their health. One of the ideas from their article, published in a journal called Health Affairs: The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere, is for employers to have company programs modeled after the TV show The Biggest Loser:

“…employers considering a penalty program must also recognize their responsibility to provide health promotion tools that can give every employee a fully voluntary choice to attempt to modify unhealthy behavior……In the areas of smoking and obesity, these tools might include health coaching, online support tools, time during working hours to exercise, and reduced co-pays for certain medications and health services. Other innovative strategies to give all employees the means to improve health include weight-loss competitions, organized corporate races, and outdoor activities.”

What do readers think about this? Please post your comments.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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