UAB employees eschew the fat in Scale Back competition

Well, we did it. We survived — and thrived — during the 10-week Scale Back Alabama competition, which took place from Jan. 21 through April 13.

They did it — and no one was harmed in the process. As a group, the 16 OPR and Comprehensive Cancer Center Scale Back contestants lost a total 227 pounds. Winners of the statewide cash prizes will be announced via webcast April 30.

And it wasn’t just the 16 of us in our own little competition in the Office of Public Relations & Marketing and the Comprehensive Cancer Center who had success. More than 600 UAB employees lost a combined 5,533 pounds during the competition.

That’s more than 18,729 iPhones, 11,723 Big Macs, 17 Sumo wrestlers, 10 lions and three 1969 Volkswagons to put it in a real-world perspective.

“Our participants shattered last year’s weight-loss results by 1,800 pounds,” says Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., coordinator of UAB Wellness and adjunct professor in the Department of Human Studies. “It was an exceptional showing and an overwhelming success for many of our faculty, staff and students.”

This year’s participants did lose an impressive amount of weight:

  • 246 people lost more than 10 pounds
  • 48 people lost more than 20 pounds
  • 15 people lost 30 pounds

I’m excited to say the employees in our departmental competition filled each of those categories. We had one person lose 32 pounds, five lose more than 20 and two lost more than 10.

As a group of 16, we lost 227 pounds (more than 14 pounds apiece!), or the equivalent of 1.19 U.S. males or 1.38 U.S. females. So we lost a person, and have no interest in finding him.

Overall, nine UAB teams had all four members lose 10 or more pounds, making them eligible for the statewide $1,000 apiece cash prize. Winners will be announced during a webcast April 30 at

Whitt says Scale Back works because it sets participants up for success.

“The program sets a reasonable weight-loss goal of one pound per week and provides educational resources, healthy eating tips and weekly lesson plans to help participants stay on track,” Whitt says. “We hope our employees who have not yet achieved their goal weight will continue striving to lose 1-2 pounds a week.”

Scale Back Alabama requires participants to compete in teams of four, with each member striving to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks, or one pound per week. “Scale Back teams give us a support group and help people stay accountable,” Whitt says. 

At the end of 10 weeks, weigh-outs were completed at various locations, and winners were announced. Prize drawings were held for three categories: teams with all four members losing 10 pounds, individuals losing more than 10 pounds, and individuals losing more than five pounds. The Alys Stephens Center, UAB Campus Recreation, UAB Hospital Health Club, UAB Dermatology, UAB EatRight, UAB Hospital Food and Nutrition Services, UAB Athletics and Zen Yogurt provided prizes for UAB competitors.

Scale Back Alabama was initially brought to UAB in 2007, and faculty and staff have lost more than 27,300 pounds in the past six years.  

“We are excited that faculty and staff have made a choice to lose weight and get healthier,” Whitt says. “Weight-management and healthy living is a daily choice, and utilizing Scale Back helps UAB continue to build a healthy culture.”

Whitt says UAB Wellness will do its part to help faculty and staff build on their success and help those who want to get started.

A new program will kick off in June in conjunction with the Farmer’s Market in the North Pavilion that will enable employees to track their blood pressure and weight on a weekly basis.

“We’re going to be working with the advance nursing group to offer blood-pressure screenings, BMI and waist measurements on Friday’s in June in the North Pavilion,” Whitt says. “Faculty, staff and visitors from the community will be able to get blood-pressure checks and monitor and measure it during the summer so they can continue to lose weight and focus on blood pressure.”

This will mark UAB’s first summertime wellness program, and Whitt promises more programs will be put in place to help employees on their quest to become healthier.

“This is just the beginning,” Whitt says. “We have more coming.”

For more healthy tips and employee programs, visit UAB Employee Wellness at

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