Worth the Weight (Loss)

UK employees win by losing pounds in annual Biggest Blue Loser contest

April 9, 2014

Losing usually isn't associated with winning, by definition, but for a group of University of Kentucky employees, retirees and spouses participating in Biggest Blue Loser, losing weight was the winning ticket.

During the annual 10-week behavioral weight-loss competition taught by UK Health & Wellness Registered Dietitians, participants are guided toward making long-term habit changes. The dietitians work with each participant to develop an individualized meal pattern and encourage them to follow through on Biggest Blue Loser "finisher" requirements like getting in 150 minutes of physical activity a week for eight of the 10 weeks. 

While 70 people participated in the Biggest Blue Loser competition this year, nine "finished." Contestants were judged not by total pounds lost, but by the percentage of body weight they lost.

Top Females

1st place: Janet Ford (online class): Lost 4.63% of body weight

2nd place: Angela Penn (online class): Lost 4.55% of body weight

3rd place: Judy Duncan (Tuesday lunch class): Lost 4.51% body weight

Top Males

1st place: John Smith (Tuesday evening class): Lost 14.3% of body weight

2nd place: Earl Begley (Tuesday lunch class): Lost 4.1% of body weight

This year’s Biggest Blue Loser ended on March 26. The annual contest begins in January because, with the New Year, there is a lot of emphasis on trying to lose weight and the program’s organizers want to take advantage of that enthusiasm.

“We know that January is a time when people want to lose weight and they have that extra sense of motivation after New Years,” said UK Registered Dietitian Karen Bryla McNees, Ed.D., R.D., CHES who has helped organize the competition since it started in 2007. “We want to capitalize on that, in a way.” 

McNees said the participants who completed in Biggest Blue Loser lost an average of nine pounds and nearly 4 percent of their respective body weights over the 10-week period. She says a lot of research and health literature shows that people who shed 5 to 10 percent of their body weight can improve a number of clinical outcomes. 

“So I kind of look at that and think in 10 weeks, if someone has lost about 4 percent (of their body weight), that’s getting pretty close to that range where it might really have an impact on their blood pressure and cholesterol because of their weight loss,” McNees said.

Biggest Blue Loser is offered through the Weight Loss Matters program with UK Health & Wellness. Weight Loss Matters is a reality-based health program that teaches participants how to eat more nutritious foods (as opposed to dieting) by attending weekly classes and having the benefit of a registered dietitian help them meet their goals. Classes are held in 10-week cycles, and the deadline to register for the next cycle of Weight Loss Matters is April 23. Learn more and register for Weight Loss Matters here » 

By Robbie Clark