A new website that features fitness and nutritional information, a weight loss blog and an interactive portal to submit questions to exercise and dietary experts is available to participants and providers of the Public Employees Insurance Agency Weight Management Program.

The website, http://healthperformance.wordpress.com, is part of an ongoing partnership between West Virginia University and the PEIA. The goal is to expand the program’s reach and provide training resources for health professionals affiliated with the program. Visitors to the site will find useful information about behavior change, motivation, creating weekly meal plans, setting and monitoring goals, making good food choices and strategies for successful weight loss.

“Since 2004, nearly 4,100 participants in this program have lost over 34,000 pounds,” according to Dr. Christiaan Abildso, Research and Evaluation director with the Weight Management Program.

Abildso says that the program has grown in popularity since its start in 2004, enrolling approximately 700-800 new participants annually in recent years.

“The website serves two main functions,” said Dr. Sam Zizzi, associate professor with WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences (CPASS) and director of Health Behavior Counseling with the program. “First, it serves as a warehouse for training resources for registered dieticians and exercise professionals. They can use it to implement ‘best practice’ guidelines in their work.” Also, the blog will help weight loss participants feel connected to the program – even from remote areas of the state – and provides tips so they can learn new strategies to change their lifestyles for the better.

“We are hopeful that the new site will help improve service delivery across multiple sites and boost participants’ support networks. Our ultimate goal is to help more people adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles,” Zizzi said.

Zizzi hopes the site inspires Weight Management participants to make smart choices with their nutrition and exercise habits, but acknowledges that website merely enhances an already strong program.

“The program will continue to be delivered by an excellent team of exercise and diet professionals in local fitness centers across the state,” he said.

CPASS researchers oversee Health Performance Services, a PEIA-funded health behavior change unit that provides telephone consultations to participants in the Weight Management Program.

Trained telephone counselors support participants by teaching them new skills to help them change their dietary and physical activity behaviors.

PEIA administers various wellness programs for its members that focus on improving quality of life by increasing physical activity. The Weight Management Program continues to grow in popularity throughout the state, and allows members to participate for up to two years.

At this point, only PEIA insurance holders can join this program. But Zizzi says that many of the resources available on the new web site can be used by any fitness or diet professional across the country to support their efforts to help people lose weight.

The program is currently offered at 63 facilities in 39 counties in West Virginia. Organizers hope to expand the program into the remaining counties to allow easier access for PEIA members, and to build the infrastructure necessary to help more people. Sites are still needed in Calhoun, Doddridge, Mason, Mingo, Monroe, Pendleton, Pleasants, Preston, Ritchie, Summers, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wetzel, Wirt, and Wyoming counties. To apply to become a weight management program site, contact Virginia Manchin at virginia.manchin@bebetter.net.

For more information, contact Kim Cameon at 304-293-0827 or kimberly.cameon@mail.wvu.edu.


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CONTACT: Kimberly Cameon, CPASS
304-293-0827, Kimberly.Cameon@mail.wvu.edu