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Cleveland Clinic pairs with Weight Watchers

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Cleveland Clinic, highly regarded for its cardiac care, doesn’t hire smokers or allow trans-fats on its menus, and now it’s joining with a nationally known weight control program to help its employees shape up and slim down.

The clinic plans to announce Monday that it will offer Weight Watchers programs at no cost to any employee enrolled in an in-house health plan that covers more than 27,000 of its 37,000 employees.

“The goal is to help our employees get healthier if they want to. ... When our employees feel healthier and are healthier, they’re able to take care of patients better,” said Dr. Michael F. Roizen, chief wellness officer for Cleveland Clinic. “Health care organization ought to stand for health.”

Employees will have access to weight management programs, fitness centers and smoking cessation programs at no cost.

The clinic banned smoking on campus in July 2005, and stopped hiring smokers last September. It banned trans-fats from patient menus, cafeterias, restaurants, pharmacies and vending machines — along with sugar-sweetened beverages — earlier last year.

It also pushed a private vendor, who operates a McDonald’s franchise in public space leased from the clinic, to add healthy choices to its menu.

“We are excited by this collaboration with Cleveland Clinic, a world-renowned health care institution and leader in health and wellness education,” said David Kirchhoff, president and chief executive officer of Weight Watchers International.

The new program will be launched in three phases. The quit smoking program will start July 1, the weight management program Aug. 1 and access to fitness centers on Nov. 1.

There are about 1,800 full-time salaried physicians and researchers in more than 100 medical specialties at Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Florida.

Weight Watchers International provides weight management services, including food products and support meetings where members can learn about healthy eating patterns, behavior modification and physical activity.