Vitaphone GmbH

Drop four dress sizes in six months

prevention program "leicht erreicht!" supported by Vitaphone has been extremely successful

Mannheim. Extreme success: This was the first interim result of the telemedically supported secondary prevention program "leicht erreicht!" for obese insured persons of pronova BKK (Statutory Health Insurance). It all started six months ago in Cologne. Around 8 per cent of their body weight – in average equivalent to four dress sizes – has so far been shed by 32 employees of the Ford plant, who are participating in the program based on dietary changes, exercise and telemedical weight monitoring in the context of the company’s workplace health promotion strategy. The "leicht erreicht!" program was jointly developed by the project partners pronova BKK, the German Sport University of Cologne, WeightWatchers and Vitaphone GmbH.

Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Predel, head of the Institute for Cardiovascular Research and Sports Medicine at the German Sport University in Cologne, said: "The majority of programs developed for obese people focus exclusively on weight reduction. Therefore, they often do not achieve sustained success. With the triad approach of dietary changes, exercise in many different forms under professional guidance and sports medical support, accompanied by telemedical weight monitoring, we are pioneering a completely new method."

According to the sports physician, by using "men, technology and telemedicine", we have addressed and reached completely new target groups. The Vitaphone Electronic Patient Record (EPR) has also proved to be a real source of motivation: Participants are not only able to monitor their individual weight trend, which emerges through daily weighing and automatic transmission of the values into the record, the reduction of their waist circumference, and the increase in their physical fitness, but they can also compare themselves to the average of the group.

Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Predel said: "We know this much: what costs nothing is generally also worth nothing. Participating in our program for one year, including telemedicine, free of charge use of the Ford fitness studio and the WeightWatchers Internet platform costs 800 Euros. This is a fair and realistic price in view of the high-quality services offered. If the participants succeed in reaching certain targets within 12 months, then pronova BKK reimburses the entire cost of participation. Of course, that is a motivating factor too."

"Only healthy employees feeling good are also productive employees. On the other hand, sick leave results in high costs," explained Rainer Ludwig, Director of Human Resources and Social Welfare at Ford-Werke GmbH in Cologne. A workplace health promotion strategy therefore forms an integral part of the corporate culture. Mr. Ludwig stated: "We support "leicht erreicht!", sustainably by adjusting working hours and shift plan to allow our employees to participate."

"If the majority of our insured lose an average of 8 per cent of their body weight and waist circumference within six months – while simultaneously increasing their fitness and quality of life considerably – then this shows we’re on the right track. Our goal is to prevent secondary diseases due to obesity in the medium and long term, because their costs place a significantly higher burden on our budget than the expense involved in providing this attractive program," Lutz Kaiser, Chairman of pronova BKK, explained with satisfaction. In addition, we are competing against other statutory health insurance companies, and so "leicht erreicht!", as well as CorBene (a telemedically supported, cross-sectoral structured care program for patients with chronic heart failure, managed by office-based cardiologists) provide a criterion to differentiate us from the competition. Lutz Kaiser continued: "Secondary prevention pays off for us in so many different respects! Reason enough to offer "leicht erreicht!" in the near future at other sites of pronova BKK too."

"In the truest sense of the word, weighing of over 100 kilograms in my 1.77-meter frame, I felt no longer comfortable in my own skin. This also had negative impact on my social contacts," explained Ford employee Stefan Braun, referring to the often-neglected social consequences of obesity. Having to admit this to himself was the most difficult step before enrolling in the program, which also excited him due to the technology of telemedicine. Meanwhile, on "leicht erreicht!“ he has lost 25 kilos. The 36-year-old admitted: "This is a completely new awareness of life and body. I’ve rediscovered the pleasure of exercising. And, of course, the shared success in the group is as motivating as the positive reactions from your environment."