Targeting obesity with discounts for Weight Watchers

By 
Tayla Holman, Reporter Correspondant
Nov. 29, 2012

Boston comedian Lenny Clarke, a spokesman for Weight Watchers, discussed his own weight loss during a press conference at Dorchester House Mutli-Service Center on Tuesday. Photo courtesy 	Don Harney/Mayor’s OfficeBoston comedian Lenny Clarke, a spokesman for Weight Watchers, discussed his own weight loss during a press conference at Dorchester House Mutli-Service Center on Tuesday. Photo courtesy Don Harney/Mayor’s Office

Boston Moves for Health has joined with Weight Watchers to offer discounted weight loss and weight management services for up to 1,000 qualifying participants through the Dorchester House, beginning in January.

Dorchester was chosen to participate in the program because it has one of the highest rates of obesity in Boston at 27 percent. The city of Boston as a whole has a 22 percent obesity rate.

Mattapan Community Health Center and East Boston Neighborhood Health Center will also be participating in the program. The obesity rates for Mattapan and East Boston are 37 percent and 28 percent respectively.

Weight Watchers will also offer a 10 percent discount to City of Boston employees. The discounted membership rate through will continue for six month’s after the participants’ enrollment.

While Mayor Menino was unable to attend the event, Barbara Ferrer, Boston Public Health commissioner said, “This is an effort that he is so proud of, and so happy to see.”

Ferrer also said Weight Watchers was one of the first groups to approach the mayor about Boston Moves for Health, asking how they could be a part of the movement.

“I’m excited to announce that Weight Watchers … will lend their expertise to help us continue to build a healthier Boston,” she said.

Daniel Boockvar, senior vice president of U.S. operations for Weight Watchers, said, “Losing weight is not only going to help Boston residents live healthier lives, it’s going to tackle health care costs to prevent illnesses like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”

Boockvar also said the 1,000 participants in the program “are going to have unprecedented access to Weight Watchers at deeply discounted prices.”

Ever since Mayor Menino announced his initiative, Weight Watchers has tracked that Boston residents have lost 38,000 pounds.

“We counted every seat in Fenway and at 37,495 seats, that’s about a pound per seat,” Boockvar said.

Boston comedian Lenny Clarke, best known as Uncle Teddy on Rescue Me, said he was 388 pounds with a 56-inch waist before joining Weight Watchers.

“When I’m in the gym now, people ask me two questions,” he said. “’How did you do it?’ And I tell them Weight Watchers. And the next question is ‘how old are you?’ I’m 56-years-old and I have a six-pack. I’m in the second half of my life and it’s better than the first.”

Clarke also said, “Weight Watchers isn’t a diet, it’s a way of life.” He also urged people not to weight until the new year to resolve to lose weight.

Walter Ramos, the new CEO of Dorchester House, said about the program, “I think this is a great institution, programs like this, which help take care of Dorchester and Boston residents.”

Ramos also said that through President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and the state’s own health care reform, “Community health care centers are going to be the focal point of health care going forward.”

“This is the front line,” Ramos said. “If you can’t take care of people here, you’re not going to be able to take care of people.”

The three community health centers will be responsible for registering eligible participants.  Participants will be referred to the program by a nurse practitioner, physician, or registered dietitian at the health center based on their individual health status and financial eligibility. 

Once a participant has qualified for the program, he or she will receive a membership card to obtain access to Weight Watchers’ meetings and resources. Contact the health center for more information on registration.