Losing Weight

Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri is going on a diet. An alumna of the all female, liberal arts institution was talking to the college president about the rise of obesity in the United States.

The conversation turned to the president’s own excess pounds and how difficult it is to balance work and exercise. The alumna challenged the president to lose 25 pounds in exchange for a $100,000 gift. The president agreed but proposed that the alumna give $1 million if the college staff could lose a collective 250 pounds by the end of the year.

With the financial motivation, the campus is making it easier to live healthfully: starting walking clubs, adding more nutritious food to the cafeteria, and setting an example for other employees.

Particularly at an academic medical center, the lessons of this experiment are even more relevant. The institution can make it easier to opt for healthy choices, but individuals must prioritize their own health. It’s not an either/or because being healthy allows faculty and staff members to work more effectively.

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