Program Intended to Encourage Healthier Lifestyles for State Workers, Inspire State Residents to Commit to Fitness and Nutrition
TRENTON – In an effort to combat the obesity epidemic which is affecting people nationwide, reducing lifespans and increasing the cost of health care, State Senator Loretta Weinberg and a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators are organizing a “Cutting the Fat Out of Government” campaign to encourage healthier lifestyles among legislative employees and elected officials.
“Our goal here is to reduce the size of government, one waistline at a time,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen and chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Obesity and obesity-related health conditions are the leading causes of death among Americans, and we want to give Legislative employees the support and resources to turn their lives around, to live healthier, and ultimately, to inspire other people to make healthier choices in 2011. This is about cultivating a healthier State workforce and taking a stand against the obesity epidemic.”
The program, which will run from January 20 until the annual Budget deadline on June 30, will be open to any legislative employee or elected official wishing to participate. Enrollees will have the support of a licensed nutritionist and athletic trainer, and will participate in monthly weigh-ins to monitor their progress towards a healthier life. Participants will also engage in fitness and nutrition classes, and will organize into weight-loss groups to support each other in their personal fitness and nutrition goals.
In order to provide the expert support needed to empower legislative employees to turn their lives around, Senator Weinberg and her bipartisan campaign co-chairs are partnering with Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, a Statewide leader in wellness education. Beth Israel has run a 12-week “Beth Challenge” in the past to work with hospital employees and greater Newark-area churches to allow employees and churchgoers to realize their weight loss goals.
“We’re proud to work with the Legislature to develop a program that has the potential to save lives,” said Barbara Mintz, MS, RD, director of Clinical Nutrition and Wellness at Newark Beth Israel. “Not only will we be able to give Legislative employees the tools, education and resources to make healthier life decisions, but we will hopefully be able to raise awareness of the obesity epidemic and set an example for other State residents to follow.”
Senator Weinberg noted that not only will the program serve to encourage healthier lifestyles among elected officials and Legislative employees, and serve as an example to State residents, but it will also serve as a cost-cutting measure for taxpayers, who cover the cost of health insurance for Legislative employees. Healthier employees means smaller insurance premiums, according to the Senator.
The culmination of the “Cutting the Fat” program will be a 5-K run to allow program participants an opportunity to show how far they’ve come.
The “Cutting the Fat Out of Government” challenge is co-chaired by Senators Weinberg, Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth and Mercer, Paul A. Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic, and Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, and Assemblywomen Grace Spencer, D-Essex and Union, and Annette Quijano, D-Union and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, R-Union, Essex, Morris and Somerset. Anyone interested in participating should e-mail CuttingtheFat@njleg.org to be included in the program and receive more information.
The first weigh-in will be held on January 20 in the Statehouse.