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CHICAGO — Mayor Emanuel was joined by Julian Castro and leadership from the beverage industry to announce an innovative municipal wellness challenge that will pit employees from San Antonio and Chicago in a competition against each other, to see who can improve their wellness profile the most, with the potential to earn cash rewards. The program will be supported by a $5 million grant from the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America.
“This program will encourage workers in Chicago and San Antonio to take control of their wellness and make healthy lifestyle choices,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I am confident that Chicago’s employees are up to the challenge and will use this competition as a way to improve their wellbeing and quality of life.”
Both Chicago and San Antonio are recognized around the country for leadership in wellness. Chicago has the largest municipal wellness program in the world, with more than 38,000 registered participants. San Antonio also offers a comprehensive wellness program, and has offered health vending machines in its city buildings since 2010. San Antonio has won the Silver Level Healthy Workplace for the past two years from the San Antonio Business Group on Health. Additionally, the city has won the Rock and Roll Marathon Get Fit Challenge and the Golden Apple from United HealthCare for two years.
"The most important aspect of any community is its quality of life, and one essential ingredient is healthy living,” said San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. “Everyone has a role to play in making our communities healthier. Here in San Antonio, we're proud to be working with the beverage industry on programs to help achieve that goal.”
The wellness challenge will create healthy competition for employees in each city to show improvement in key health measurements, such as Body-Mass Index, smoking cessation and others. Successful employees would be eligible for cash rewards for their improvements. A committee of distinguished medical professionals will create the guidelines for the competition, which will be focused completely on helping employees improve their wellness from their initial results in their wellness screenings.
The wellness challenge activities, management and rewards will be supported by a $5 million grant from the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America.
The announcement about the Wellness challenge comes on the same day that America’s leading beverage companies are launching a new Calories Count™ Vending Program. This vending machine program provides clear calorie information, encourages lower-calorie beverage choices and reminds consumers that calories count in all the choices they make. The Calories Count™ Vending Program will be launched in municipal buildings in the cities of Chicago and San Antonio beginning in 2013 and then made available to customers nationwide.
““We are proud to be working together with Mayor Emanuel and Mayor Castro – two of the nation’s most dynamic and innovative mayors – on meaningful initiatives that help promote balanced, active and healthy lifestyles,” said Susan K. Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. “Public-private partnerships such as these are a critical strategy in the effort to help reduce obesity in our communities and across the nation.”
Under the Calories Count™ Vending Program, The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo will work with government leaders, food service operators, vending companies and other customers to:
- Increase availability of lower-calorie beverages in vending machines;
- Display a “Calories Count™” vending snipe on the front of beverage vending machines reminding consumers to consider calories in their beverage choices with messages such as “Check then Choose” and “Try a Low-Calorie Beverage”; and
- Add calorie labels to the selection buttons on beverage vending machines to show calorie counts per beverage container.
The Wellness Challenge will run for three months, and is effective Jan. 1. The vending machines will debut in early 2013.
"This is a wonderful program that will inspire our city's workers to take control of their wellness and will reduce healthcare costs," said Ald. George Cardenas. "I am confident that our workers will win this competition, and that their quality of like will improve while they do it."
The City of Chicago’s wellness program is expected to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in additional health care costs, over the next several years.