Inside Rensselaer
* Curtis Powell

Curtis Powell

A Word from the Division of Human Resources
Healthy Campus Initiative

Recent studies show that the U.S. currently spends more than a trillion dollars on avoidable health conditions, which may rise to $6 trillion by the year 2050 if the nation continues on its current path. The reality, as confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other researchers, is that up to 75 percent of total U.S. health care costs are for the care of preventable diseases often caused by poor health habits and unhealthy lifestyles.

Over the years, the Division of Human Resources has launched a series of programs to support the Rensselaer Healthy Campus Initiative. In continuing efforts to encourage Rensselaer faculty and staff to consider the benefits of pursuing healthier lifestyle habits to improve one’s holistic outlook of the mind, body, and spirit, Human Resources — in partnership with Capital District Physician’s Health Plan — will once again offer a six-week weight loss and fitness challenge.

The Weigh 2 Be (W2B) wellness program is designed to support healthy and sustainable weight loss through increased and regular physical activity, healthy eating, and positive lifestyle changes in a fun and supportive environment. The program will kick off on March 24 and ends on April 28.

A buddy system is used with employees working in teams of two. Participants will attend weekly lunch-and-learn sessions where they will find out how to set realistic goals to achieve a balanced diet, and incorporate physical activity into a busy schedule. Additional W2B benefits include pre- and post-body composition analysis, weekly weigh-ins, a walking club, free pedometers, and the services of a nutrition counselor and personal trainer. Prizes for teams and employees with the highest percentage of weight loss also will be awarded on a weekly basis.

More than 150 faculty and staff participated in the inaugural W2B program last year. The group lost a total of 549.2 pounds, and more than 148 inches. Some personal success stories included significant changes in body mass index ratings — which measure body fat based on height and weight—and decreases in cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

Today, the cost of providing employer-based health care is staggering and continues to rise. According to a report by the Health Benefits Design Group, employment-based health insurance premiums for family coverage increased by 87 percent, which was more than four times the growth in wages between 2000 and 2006. At Rensselaer, with the many demands for institutional resources, we will continue to invest in a comprehensive health plan for our faculty and staff — our most valuable resources.

For more information regarding the W2B challenge and other Healthy Campus Initiatives, contact Marie McDowell at or Marjorie Bertram at

Curtis Powell, SPHR
Vice President for Human Resources

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 4, March 18, 2011
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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