Program boasts considerable support
The price of admission to Moose Jaw's new comprehensive weight loss program is a doctor's note.
© Justin Crann
April Wiebe, one of the early participants in the Healthy Weights Initiative (HWI), works out at the YMCA gym on 1st Avenue Northwest while her trainer from Alliance Wellness and Rehabilitation watches on. Wiebe said she enrolled in the program so she can play sports with her kids, rather than just watch them play.
"We all know that it is quite expensive for families to eat, and particularly, to eat healthy," said Dr. Brad Thorpe, medical director of Aspen Medical on South Hill, which is a collaborator in the program. "It's often very easy to take a few dollars and just head off to McDonald's or Burger King."
"The collaborative work that we will be doing here is provided for free to the population."
The program, dubbed the Healthy Weights Initiative (HWI), will include 72 personal training sessions, 12 dietary sessions, 12 cognitive behaviour therapy sessions, two fitness tests and social support.
The project has been organized by Dr. Mark Lemstra, the behavioural medicine co-ordinator at academic family medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.
It will aim to achieve the Canadian Healthy Living Strategy's target of reducing obesity levels in the city by 20 per cent.
There are approximately 5,000 adults (those aged 18 to 64) in Moose Jaw classified as obese according to Statistics Canada data. The program is seeking 1,000 Moose Javians in that age range to participate.
All a person requires to sign up is a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 and a referral from their doctor.
Participants will also be asked to bring a partner with a similarly high BMI to work out with them and provide support.
In Moose Jaw, the program has amassed the signatures and support of more than 30 medical professionals.
It also collected letters of support from several community officials, including Christine Boyczuk, the co-ordinator of the Regional Intersectoral Committee; Kim Novak, superintendent of the Prairie South School Division; Jeff Fox, chair of the Healthy Active Living committee; and Mayor Deb Higgins.
"It speaks to the recognition there is that we need to do something to build a healthier community and healthier population," Higgins told the Times-Herald. "(Dr. Lemstra) has put in a lot of work and brought on board the right people, I think, to make this project a success."
She noted that the city was not providing any subsidies to the program.
"There's been no request whatsoever for the city to offer anything other than our moral support toward the project," said Higgins. "It's been put forward by the initiative of Dr. Lemstra and the businesses and medical community within the city."
Higgins said she would be participating in the program.
"I will. You have to walk the talk," she said. "We all talk about it with new year resolutions … this is a good opportunity with good support to be able to take that step and become more active."
ON PAGE TWO: Healthy Weights Initiative will evaluate participants.