WAUSEON -- Thousands of unwanted pounds vanished during the first two years of the Be Healthy Now campaign in Fulton County, and the Ohio State University Extension office expects that to continue when the program enters its third year with team sign-ups this month.
A week of registrations is to begin Feb. 21 at firehouses across the county, concluding with a kick-off Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Robert Fulton Agriculture Center on State Rt. 108 across from the fairgrounds.
This year's 12-week program will emphasize the relationship between physical and financial health, said Cheryl Spires, extension office family and consumer sciences educator.
"Financial stress leads to physical stress. It saps the immune system," Ms. Spires said last week.
On the other side, weight or smoking can affect job productivity and even employment as businesses seek to limit their exposure to health-insurace liabilities, she said.
People who live, work, worship, or go to school in Fulton County are eligible to participate in Be Healthy Now: Fulton County and win prizes both as team members and individuals. Participants are urged to form teams of four to six; individuals not part of teams will be offered chances to match up at the Feb. 26 kick-off.
For a $10-a-person registration fee, participants receive access to weekly educational sessions and are given a pedometer, a workbook, a discount card for area businesses, and other program materials.
Cash prizes are awarded randomly to participating teams that achieve their weight-loss goals and to individuals who have the highest weight-loss percentages and are on teams that complete their goals.
During the inaugural year in 2009, more than 970 people participated and shed more than 4,000 pounds collectively, Ms. Spires said. Last year, the numbers tailed off to about 300 people and 700 pounds lost, "but the people that are participating in it are getting some serious results, and making some lifestyle changes," she said.
"We continue to see people who have lowered their blood pressures and have dropped medications they no longer need."
Ms. Spires cited in particular a 12-year-old boy she happened to see at an area school twice since he started Be Healthy Now: The boy boasted to her of the weight he has lost and the sports he has started playing.
Registration sessions are scheduled for Archbold Feb. 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Feb. 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., in Delta Feb. 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and on Feb. 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in Fayette Feb. 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and in Swanton on Feb. 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Other sessions will be Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., at Evergreen Elementary School near Metamora, and at the Robert Fulton Agriculture Center Feb. 22 and 23 from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and Feb. 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.