CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) announced today the conclusion of its second employee weight loss challenge – the 5 Ton Challenge. At the end of the six-month program, employees lost 8,317 pounds, surpassing by 546 pounds the amount lost in the same timeframe during 2012.

“When our employees have a body mass index (BMI) of 29 or more, their health care costs can be up to $2,900 more per employee,” said Brad Wilson, BCBSNC president and CEO. “The 5 Ton Challenge has helped our company and employees better understand how lifestyle choices affect medical costs.”

In 2012, Wilson kicked off the year by challenging the company’s almost 4,000 employees to lose 10,000, or five tons, in nine months. Employees met – and even exceeded – the challenge by losing 11,301 pounds.

In April 2013, BCBSNC embarked on the 5 Ton Challenge again – and employees lost over 8,000 pounds in six months. Over the course of the two-year program, BCBSNC employees lost a total of 19,618 pounds.

“We’re working hard to make health care better across North Carolina and what better place to start then at home,” said Fara Palumbo, senior vice president and chief human resources officer. “Our employees again embraced the challenge and showed their determination not to give up. Like any weight loss journey, we will build upon our successes and learn from our setbacks as we continue our company’s ongoing commitment to improving health.”

Thirty five self-selected “Weight Warriors” led BCBSNC’s challenge. Throughout the program, the Weight Warriors shared stories and experiences with other employees through videos, personal blog posts, discussion board updates and news articles on the company’s intranet. 

Health screening metrics1 collected before and after the 2013 challenge revealed that the Weight Warriors lost 687.1 pounds collectively. In addition, Weight Warriors saw an average of:

  • 6-inches lost in total waist circumference
  • 3-point decrease in BMI
  • Almost 20 pounds lost, 8.4-percent reduction in total weight
  • 26.9-point reduction in triglycerides level

“I’ve lost 59 pounds, but the biggest change for me, and what I was striving for, is the change in my health assessment. My BMI is down by 14 percent,” said Weight Warrior Sheena Lewis. “I could not have reached my goal without the support of my team, co-workers and company.”

“Weight loss isn’t a magic pill to make you a different person; it does make you a healthier version of yourself,” said Weight Warrior Dwan Richmond.

While participation was voluntary, 46 percent of employees participated in this year’s challenge. In 2012, 40 percent of the BCBSNC workforce participated.

To conclude the challenge, BCBSNC will donate $8,317, $1 for every pound lost during the challenge, to Bridge II Sports, a local charity that gives people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in sports and stay active.

To learn more about the 5 Ton Challenge, visit Or meet the Weight Warriors by visiting BCBSNC’s YouTube channel ( or checking out the BCBSNC Facebook page  (


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.74 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For generations, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina was recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute in 2012 and 2013. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit BCBSNC online at  ® Marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.


  1. BCBSNC Internal Data, 2013