Here's How to Get Overweight Employees Excited About Weight Loss

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Overweight and obese workers cost more to employ, according to a recent Gallup announcement. Scale Down Challenge makes it easy to hold 10-week workplace weight loss tournaments that employees love--because cash prizes are paid to the biggest losers. The most overweight employees are especially motivated to participate, because they know they have a good chance of winning! The friendly co-worker competition and lure of money result in successful weight loss for most participants. Very little staff time is required to run Scale Down Challenge tournaments, and since employee registration fees fund the prize pool, they're very low cost as well.

"Competing for cash prizes motivates overweight employees to participate and to lose weight by cutting calories and increasing exercise," says Ryan Beckland, co-founder of Scale Down Challenge.

The word is out: It's costly to employ overweight people. With recent headlines from Gallup confirming this fact, leaders realize there’s much to be gained by motivating obese workers to slim down--but what's the best way to approach such a sensitive and personal issue at work? “With friendly competition and cash prizes!” say the founders of Scale Down Challenge,, a start-up company with a solution that actually gets overweight employees excited about losing weight. Any workplace can easily set up a 10-week, “biggest loser” style weight loss tournament with low-cost Scale Down Challenge software and marketing tools. The tournaments feature cash prizes for the winners—an incentive that motivates workers to shed pounds by eating healthier and becoming more physically active.

Scale Down Challenge co-founder Ryan Beckland says Scale Down Challenge tournaments are funded primarily by a registration fee (typically $25.00), collected from each individual participant. The fees are used to create an incentive prize pool. “Competing for cash prizes motivates overweight employees to participate and to lose weight by cutting calories and increasing exercise,” Beckland says. “But in particular, our tournaments appeal to the most overweight employees, because they have an excellent chance of winning. The fact that they’re overweight feels like somewhat of an advantage, which is empowering. And the lure of cash keeps motivation high.”

Employers offering a Scale Down Challenge tournament receive an interactive tournament website, and marketing tools including a publicity plan, posters, flyers, newsletter articles, and content for email messages. The Scale Down Challenge web-based software handles registration; sends emails to participants with reminders, tips, and words of encouragement; and allows tournament competitors to track their week-to-week progress and rankings. “The software handles almost every detail of a tournament, making it a wellness program that requires very little staff time,” notes Beckland. More details about the Scale Down Challenge software can be found at

Scale Down Challenge tournaments are easily implemented in any type of workplace, including those with multiple locations. Beckland says Scale Down Challenge also offers a version of the software and marketing tools just for health clubs and fitness centers that want to hold member weight loss tournaments. Information can be found at

The University of Kansas is holding a faculty-staff Scale Down Challenge tournament that started on Sept. 14 and will end just before Thanksgiving. Amber Long, assistant director of fitness at K.U. Recreation Services, says many of the university’s employees like the idea of getting healthier, but are still in the contemplative stage. “So incentives that get them to take that first step are really helpful,” Long explains. “The cash prizes offered by Scale Down Challenge definitely do that. The possibility of getting some money at the end provides extra motivation to sign up for the tournament, and continues motivating participants to eat healthy and increase their physical activity during the 10 weeks.”

Long continues, “It feels great that we are helping some of our employees lose weight in a way that increases camaraderie at work. Long term, we hope that these small efforts result in reducing health insurance costs for both the university and employees.”

Scale Down Challenge competitors lose an average of 19 pounds, says Beckland. “It’s done by eating healthier, eating less, and exercising more,” he adds. “We make sure it’s not weight loss at any cost.” Several features of the Scale Down Challenge software ensure healthy, safe weight loss practices. Participants dropping below a body mass index of 18.5 percent are removed from the competition, and the software locks the account of competitors losing more than three percent of body weight for three consecutive weeks.

“Scale Down Challenge participants lose weight, eat better, and focus more on physical activity,” Beckland says. “When workplaces motivate employees to get healthier, everyone wins.”

For more information about Scale Down Challenge, visit, or call 800-495-7934.


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