RED BANK — Borough Councilman Michael DuPont is offering colleagues on the governing body a challenge.
DuPont’s challenge, extended at the March 14 Borough Council meeting, would have Mayor Pasquale Menna and his five fellow council members compete in their own version of “The Biggest Loser” competition, as part of a greater borough wide wellness campaign.
To encourage them, DuPont offered to put up $100 in “Red Bank Dollars” gift certificates fo the winner who loses the greatest percentage of body weight.
DuPont has long advocated that the mayor and council launch an official Mayor’s Wellness Campaign.
Two weeks ago, Dupont introduced the governing body to Melissa Kostinas, the executive director of the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign for the New Jersey Healthcare Quality Institute, a not-for-profit that looks at ways of containing health care costs in the state.
Healthy municipal employees mean savings on municipal health insurances costs of as much as $500 per employee, according to DuPont.
“The borough’s wellness can affect the bottom line,” he said.
DuPont, who is the council’s finance committee chairman, also noted that that the proposed municipal budget for 2012 includes a 22 percent increase in the cost of health insurance premiums.
Kostinas said about 337 municipalities have joined her organization’s Mayor’s Wellness Campaign and taken the pledge “to do what they can” to encourage healthy behavior.
It’s up to each town to decide how to accomplish that, Kostinas said, noting that municipalities of differing sizes have different resources and can’t all do the same thing. “If you can’t do much and you don’t have a lot of money, you can at least start a walking club,” she advised as one low cost option.
When the idea was broached earlier this month Menna’s suggestion was to transform his occasional Saturday morning get-togethers with residents into walking meetings.
The campaign, Kostinas explained, helps municipalities organize various events, like a wellness cookout conducted in Bay Head last summer, and an event coming up this weekend in Belmar. “We also like to think of it as networking,” Kostinas said, as towns learn what other towns are doing. “It helps them get new ideas.”
One possible problem that the program could address locally is the epidemic of diabetes, DuPont said, noting that approximately 26 million Americans have the disease.
“It’s a global epidemic,” said Rick Ivone Jr. Ivone is a type 1 diabetic who works as a motivational speaker helping those suffering from the disease lead productive, healthy lives. He told the council, “Diabetes doesn’t just break you down physically; it breaks your spirit.”
“I think there are a lot of things we can do,” Menna responded.
“I will meet your challenge, Mr. DuPont.”
To accomplish that, the mayor has issued a call for volunteers to participate on a wellness campaign committee.