No doubt about it — Americans are spending hours and hours of time playing electronic games such as Xbox® and PlayStation® and are interacting continuously with Web sites that do everything from selling products to offering college credit. That's why it makes sense to partner with the Internet to make losing weight fun. Why not offer an intriguing way to encourage people to lose weight via computer?
The latest weapon in the battle of the bulge, MyWeightLossTeam.com., comes from Johnson City. But this time, participants meet in cyberspace. The highly interactive Web site was the brainchild of emergency physician Dr. Camilo Torres and his wife, Jenifer, after she gave birth first to twins and then triplets.
At the time, in 1999, she was the host of a personal Web site in which she conducted weight loss challenges for individuals or teams who would compete via the Internet to see who could lose weight the fastest. After successfully running these challenges for many months, the number of people asking to join became unmanageable.
What she discovered was that the Internet provides a forum that allows people to develop cyber-friends who they can be open and honest with about their weight issues without embarrassing themselves in front of people. It also provides a way to hold people accountable on a daily basis for their weight loss efforts.
The couple decided to launch a commercial venture utilizing this unique approach to knock out weight problems. And not a minute too soon. Tennessee is currently losing the battle of the bulge with a skyrocketing rate of obesity at 27.25 percent and it has now entered the top 10 obesity chart, ranked number nine.
Never before in the entire nation has weight been on the rise so quickly. The Wall Street Journal reports that one of 80 men weighs more than 300 pounds, a 50 percent increase from 1996-2000. The ratio for women is one in 200, with an alarming 67 percent increase for the same time period.
Torres said that he sees the problems of weight every day in mundane tasks he performs, such obtaining IV access or placing a patient in a CT scanner.
"(Completing these tasks is) becoming increasingly difficult to do because very often we are seeing patients that weigh over 300 pounds," Torres said. "Obesity is not only a problem for the person carrying around all that weight, but also on hospitals and health care providers."
The innovative Web site, developed by Johnson City-based Saratoga Technologies, along with Jonathan Phebus, lead engineer and software developer, is intended to help provide physicians and patients daily accountability needed to successfully lose weight. It allows people to be matched according to personal preferences, gives each member his or her own Web space for pictures, has an online journal, daily food logs, and provides team message and community boards for open communication.
The business model for MyWeightLossTeam.com is based on revenue generated by subscribers, advertisers, retailers and corporate partners. The site also has a built-in referral system by which members are remunerated for referring people to the site. No long term commitment is required. A 7-day risk-free trial is available.
The concept provides daily accountability, fosters long-term behavior modification and allows open and candid communication between participants.
Losing weight is more than counting calories and tracking exercise. Losing weight is mainly a mental game. With billions of dollars being spent annually by consumers on fad diets, pills, books and products that are ineffective or only at best useful on a short-term basis, the need was obvious for a program that fosters long-term success, said the Torreses.
Individual members and corporate partnership memberships are available. No cost is involved to the employer or business and companies receive free advertising on MyWeightLossTeam.com.