ROCHESTER, N.Y. —At the heart of Wegman’s health-and-wellness initiatives is the company’s “Eat Well. Live Well Challenge,” an eight-week challenge designed to encourage individuals to move more and increase the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed.
Each year, for eight weeks, participants try to walk at least 10,000 steps and eat five cups of fruits and vegetables every day. They enter their daily statistics into an “Eat Well. Live Well Challenge” Web site. “We designed the ‘Eat Well. Live Well Challenge’ to be easy and fun, so people could stick with the changes for at least eight weeks or, better yet, permanently,” said Wegmans’ nutritionist Jane Andrews.
Making the goal five cups of fruit and vegetables a day makes nutritional sense,” Andrews said. “If you eat five cups a day, you’re not as hungry for snack foods with less to offer nutritionally. You’re shifting food choices in a healthier direction.”
Wegmans first introduced this program in 2003, and has had increasing success every year, the company noted. In spring 2006, as a part of a Rochester Business Alliance healthcare initiative, several Rochester employers, including Eastman Kodak, Rochester Institute of Technology and Xerox, participated in a pilot of the challenge.
By the end of 2009, more than 300 employers had participated in at least one challenge, incorporating more than 44,000 employees. Wegmans and the Rochester Business Alliance are continuing to partner to introduce the challenge to more employers in the Rochester community. Wegmans also has extended its “Eat Well. Live Well Challenge” into the Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y., markets
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This year, as many as 11,500 Wegmans employees took the challenge, and according to a poll conducted following the challenge, nearly 7% reported they had lost weight, 200 employees reported they had lowered their blood pressure, 219 suggested they had improved their cholesterol readings and 39 had quit smoking.
Enhancements are added to the “Eat Well. Live Well Challenge” every year. In 2009, a “Call to Action” day for employees before the March 15 challenge kickoff encouraged sign-ups with free health screenings and education stations that showed simple ways of meeting daily goals. Participants also received a free pedometer to count the daily goal of 10,000 steps and a workbook with meal and activity planning tools called “Your Journey to a Healthier, Better Life.”