RACINE, Wis., June 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Racine, Wis. was today named a winner in the Healthy Communities Grant Program, an initiative of Weight Watchers International, Inc. and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). Racine was selected for its commitment to healthy living, evident through programs like Well Racine. The Healthy Communities Grant Program is an initiative designed to help curb the national obesity epidemic and foster healthy lifestyles in communities, especially low-income areas that tend to have higher obesity rates and increased risks for obesity.(1) The program supports a collaborative approach to creating healthier environments by establishing health-focused relationships between community members, governments and businesses, and promoting innovative solutions for healthier living.
As one of the three Healthy Communities Grant Program recipients, Racine will receive a grant to build upon its successful efforts to foster healthy eating, increase physical activity, and promote weight loss and weight management through access to partially subsidized Weight Watchers memberships for local residents who qualify based on health status and financial need. The total retail value of all Weight Watchers memberships offered as part of the grant is up to $1 million across the three winning cities. Racine will also receive a $25,000 grant to administer the new program and build capacity for its success.*
"About 31 percent of adults in Racine are obese,(2)"said David Kirchhoff, Weight Watchers CEO. "Obesity fuels a multitude of chronic health conditions including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To prevent these obesity-related, costly chronic diseases, we must act now with solutions that are proven to be effective. We look forward to working with Racine to help combat obesity with community-based solutions. Through this effort, we will provide Weight Watchers' proven approach to weight loss to individuals who may not otherwise be able to afford our program."
Obesity rates are six percent higher for adults in Racine County than the national average, making chronic disease prevention a top priority for Racine. Mayor John Dickert has led by example by participating in "Beat the Boss" and other worksite wellness competitions to shed weight and increase activity. Mayor Dickert has convinced local business leaders to participate in the Well Racine initiative, a component of Well City USA. As a result, community businesses are successfully providing results-oriented wellness programs for nearly 16,000 employees. Through the Healthy Communities Grant, Racine hopes to expand its Well City Racine designation to a Well County Racine designation. To meet this goal, Well County Racine businesses will work with Weight Watchers to offer qualified residents steeply discounted Weight Watchers memberships. This effort will help Racine take its successful strategies for healthy eating, physical activity, weight loss and reduction of chronic illness to a new level.
"This is a true partnership between our local businesses and our staff," said Racine Mayor John Dickert. "Working together not only make for a healthier and more productive city, but a stronger community. We are family, and we are just getting started to a healthier tomorrow."
The Healthy Communities Grant Program winning cities will be recognized Monday, June 24 at the USCM 81st Annual Conference, for their exceptional existing healthy lifestyle programming.
"The U.S. Conference of Mayors has long been committed to mayor-driven health promotion in communities nationwide," said U.S. Conference of Mayors President Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "We are proud to work with Weight Watchers on this important initiative to help Racine and other cities support their residents in achieving a healthier lifestyle."
More information on the Healthy Communities Grant Program and grant recipients is available at usmayors.org/weightwatchers.
About The United States Conference of Mayors
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,295 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/usmayors, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usmayors.
About Weight Watchers International, Inc.
Weight Watchers International, Inc. is the world's leading provider of weight management services, operating globally through a network of Company-owned and franchise operations. Weight Watchers holds more than 40,000 meetings each week where members receive group support and learn about healthy eating patterns, behavior modification and physical activity. WeightWatchers.com provides innovative, subscription weight management products over the Internet and is the leading Internet-based weight management provider in the world. In addition, Weight Watchers offers a wide range of products, publications and programs for those interested in weight loss and weight control.
*Award of grant and partially subsidized Weight Watchers memberships will be subject to eligibility and compliance with local, state and federal laws and regulations, including without limitation any applicable local gift ordinance. Void where prohibited.
(1) Kim, D. & Leigh, J. P. (2010). Estimating the effects of wages on obesity. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(5), 495-500.
(2) County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/#/wisconsin/2013/racine/county/outcomes/overall/snapshot/by-rank
SOURCE Weight Watchers International, Inc.