In a bid to get residents interested in a healthy lifestyle, municipal officials in Lynwood, California, have a yearly program in place called ‘Cash for Chunkers’. Participants are divided into teams of four, and for 12 weeks they compete to see who can lose the most weight. This year, the winning team gets to take home a cash prize of $3,500.
Lynwood has a serious weight problem – one in five adults here are obese – but instead of taking restrictive measures like banning sodas or raising taxes on fast food, local authorities decided to motivate people to shed some pounds by offering them cash prizes.
Cash for Chunkers is self-funded, with a $25 entry fee per participant, and a $1-fine per pound gained during the 12-week period. The program is meant to get the people of Lynwood to eat healthy and exercise regularly. To help participants do better, it includes motivational discussions and classes on nutrition, cooking, and exercise. The teams also meet up every Saturday for a weighing session. “If they fail, they later return because they know we’re going to help them here and we’re going to work as a community,” said Mark Flores, director of Lynwood’s Recreation and Community Services Department.
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“There’s a great concern among the student population about being overweight and we have to begin with the parents,” he added. “If they get motivated to lose weight and are conscientious about it, that will help their kids.”
“It’s really good, it helps me a lot,” said 41-year-old Eliberto Chavez, a participant who currently weighs 334 pounds. He’s in a team called Orange Bang, which weighs a total of 1,188 pounds. “Besides losing weight, it’s a time to be with my family and share challenges together.”
“We start off very well during the first few weeks but later we start gaining weight, but what’s important is to keep trying,” added Ramona Urrea, Chavez’s cousin. “This time, we’re going to succeed.”
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Some of the participants are really motivated about winning the prize, but others are in it just to be able to lose a few pounds. Like Cecilia Amezquita, who recently returned to the program after a short break. She used to weigh 261 pounds earlier, managed to drop that number to 100, and later started putting on weight again. The program is now helping her reach her new goal of losing about 40 pounds.
Losing weight in 12 weeks sounds like a difficult task, but Cash for Chunkers has had a successful run since 2009. Last year’s winning team managed to lose a total of 14 percent of their body weight – Alfonso Morales won in the male category losing 21 percent, while Patricia Alvarez was the winner among women at 20 percent. Their team received $1,200, while Morales and Alvarez were awarded $400 each.
The response to Cash for Chunkers has been unexpectedly positive. Not only has the number of entrants in the competition grown every year since it was introduced in 2010, but the idea was also adopted by several neighboring cities which have started similar weight loss programs for their residents.
‘Lose to Win’ isn’t an entirely new concept – we’ve seen it in practice in Dubai before, where a weight loss contest promised participants the chance of winning two grams of solid gold for every kilogram of body weight lost. Over 7,500 people won in 2014, collectively earning a whopping 40kg of gold!
via FOX News Latino