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Mich. companies tout dieting incentives

/ Source: The Associated Press

Losing weight is earning some Michigan workers more than a slimmer waistline.

At the Clarkston-based Freedom One Financial Corp., employees who meet weight loss goals are earning tropical vacations.

"It's actually selfish," Freedom One President and CEO Mark Wayne told The Detroit News for a Tuesday story. "When somebody feels good, they're healthy, they work harder and they're more focused."

About half of the company's 75 employees have signed up for the weight loss challenge, running through January. To win, employees must meet one of three goals: lose 25 pounds, reduce body weight by 15 percent or reduce body fat by 15 percent.

Wayne said workers have lost hundreds of pounds in the current challenge and two others held over the past couple years.

"Before this, I was working out hit or miss. Now, I'm doing it at least six times a week," said employee Ken Krausman, 40, of Clarkston, who's lost 18 pounds in 18 months."

Hoping to save on the costs of health care and lost productivity, employers have started offering such incentives for weight loss. Among other incentives are cash bonuses and paid days off.

Besides Freedom One, other Michigan companies involved in such programs include the Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone law firm, with nine locations statewide.

The New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics, with a laboratory in Auburn Hills, also offers incentives for weight loss. The company recently won an award from the National Business Group on Health for its wellness efforts.

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, workers recently ended a 10-week "Dump the Plump" contest. More than 3,600 pounds were lost by 530 employees who competed in teams for cash prizes collected from employee entry fees.