CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – From 2006 to 2011, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) employees continued to gain weight and their health metrics declined. In January 2012, BCBSNC decided to take a new approach to getting healthy. The company launched the “5 Ton Challenge” to encourage its 4,000 employees to lose a combined total of 10,000 pounds, or five tons. BCBSNC employees took the challenge, and after nine months, they exceeded their goal by losing 11,301 pounds.

“We know that when our employees have a BMI of more than 28, their health care costs can be up to $2,900 higher per employee. As a company and a leader in the North Carolina health care system, that’s not a trend we can sustain, so we made a commitment to get serious about our health,” said Brad Wilson, BCBSNC president and CEO. “Many of the steps that we took through the 5 Ton Challenge are ones that most North Carolina companies can take. We’re living proof that it’s possible to help employees get healthier and address rising health care costs at the same time.”

To help motivate employees to participate, BCBSNC selected 25 “Weight Warriors” as champions of the Challenge. The Weight Warriors shared their weight loss journeys through videos, personal blog posts, discussion boards and news articles on the company’s intranet. The Weight Warriors helped inspire a larger portion of BCBSNC employees to lose weight in 2012 than any other year since 2006.

Throughout the Challenge, the Weight Warriors held true to their health and fitness commitments and lost almost 650 pounds. The health screening metrics collected before and after the Challenge revealed that on average Weight Warriors saw a:
•    5-inch loss in total waist circumference
•    2.7-point decrease in BMI
•    16.8-pound reduction in total weight
•    5-point decline in cholesterol

“I’ve always wanted to play basketball with my daughter instead of just watching her, but I lacked the motivation and stamina to get active and lose weight,” said Tanisha Wilder, BCBSNC employee and winning Weight Warrior. “I lost a quarter of my body weight during the 5 Ton Challenge. Now I can get involved in all my family activities, whether it’s basketball or game night. I’ve never felt better or had more fun!”
BCBSNC provided a number of resources for employees during the 5 Ton Challenge to encourage weight loss, including:
•    Healthier options in on-site cafeterias and vending machines
•    Reduced-price Weight Watchers memberships
•    The flexibility to exercise during work hours at the company’s gyms and fitness trails
•    Weekly emails with tips and advice on losing weight and eating healthy
•    Monthly weigh-ins, support groups and educational events, like cooking and nutrition classes
•    Free use of Rival Fusion exercise and nutrition program from Rival Health, Inc.

In addition to these resources, BCBSNC inspired employees to lose weight in 2012 with the possibility of reduced health care costs. Employees who achieved a body mass index (BMI) of less than 28, or who lost 5 percent of their body weight, in 2012 were eligible to receive a credit toward their health care premiums in 2013. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals with a BMI of 30 or above are considered obese1.

BCBSNC recently launched a new wellness initiative, Maintain Don’t Gain, to help employees stay healthy and motivated during the holiday season. BCBSNC plans to launch another weight loss challenge for employees in 2013.

To learn more about the 5 Ton Challenge, visit BCBSNC at Or meet the Weight Warriors by visiting BCBSNC’s YouTube channel or tuning in for Weight Warrior Wednesdays on the BCBSNC Facebook page.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.6 million members, including approximately 900,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 78 years, 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 named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute in 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit BCBSNC online at


1 Healthy Weight - it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle!, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011