November 6th, 2008
02:57 PM ET

How we lost 4 million pounds while feeding the hungry

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/06/art.fond.du.lac.jpg caption="For every pound lost by Weight Watchers between Sept. 7th and Oct. 18, the equivalent of one pound of food will be donated to Share Our Strength or Action Against Hunger."]David Kirchhoff
CEO, Weight Watchers International

We live in such an unusual time, given that so many people are struggling to get enough to eat, and yet obesity is a major health care issue around the world. Just look at these two statistics: 862 million people are underfed, and1.6 billion people are overweight or obese. What a startling imbalance.

To contribute to righting this imbalance, we announced Lose for Good a couple of months ago, a new challenge to Weight Watchers Members to band together and invest in their own health while helping a neighbor in need.

The goal was simple: For every pound lost by Weight Watchers between Sept. 7th and Oct. 18, we would donate the equivalent of one pound of food, up to a million dollars, to Share Our Strength or Action Against Hunger. In addition, our members and staff could contribute food locally to those who are having a hard time making ends meet.

When we started planning earlier this year, it seemed a compelling way to motivate our members and do something good for the community. As the economy started to deteriorate, food banks started to get hit pretty hard with decreased donations and increased demand. Suddenly, Lose For Good began to feel more than just compelling. It became a call to action.

All the results are not yet in, but we’re thrilled with preliminary results:

– During this six week period, our meetings members and Weight Watchers Online subscribers say they lost more than an estimated 4 million pounds.

– We met our goal, and will make a collective $1 million donation to those two outstanding hunger fighting organizations.

– And Weight Watchers volunteers and staff organized food drives at over 2,050 locations coast to coast, donating about 1.5 million pounds of food to food banks.

Here is just one of thousands of local examples of people doing great things to help their neighbors. In one of our meetings in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, our local team set up a Great Wall of Giving. For every 10 pounds of food donated, the Member received an honorary "faux" brick in the great wall of giving, woven together with nutritious food. Within six weeks, the group lost more than 1,000 pounds and donated food in that amount to the Salvation Army.

We are proud of our contribution to fight hunger. We know other organizations are doing the same. We hope even more join us.

Filed under: 360° Radar • David Kirchhoff • Food crisis • Health Care
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Johnna

    I don't think that donating junk food to the hungry is the answer. However, I do think that involving students more often in helping others is a good idea. Nutrition needs to be taught in more schools, and I don't mean the very basics that we learn in Kindergarten. If it was taught in depth in high school, people would be better prepared to make the correct decisions when choosing food. In doing so, lifestyle changes can be made early on.

    November 6, 2008 at 6:49 pm |
  2. Wisdom

    Smoking is bad so it's taxed at 400%
    Drinking is bad so it's taxed at 200%

    Both of which I disagree with... vice tax to that extent...

    So maybe they should do the same with food... if it's deemed bad tax it at 400%.... a 12 dollar Big Mac may look a little worse that way...

    What kills me is the very overweight children I see... it's not their fault either... simply the parents... why would you let your child do that... in an age of adult diabetes, heart disease etc... disgusting... it's bad enough you have no will power of your own... but to send your kids down the same road is shameful

    November 6, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  3. Melissa, Los Angeles

    @ Sue are you kidding?! You want the government to tell you what, when, and how much junk food/fast food to eat? How about people taking personal responsibility for their life instead of expecting the government to do everything for them? We wouldn't even be in this economical mess and obesity crisis if we all learned how to manage our finances and what we ate.

    November 6, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  4. Ross LaFleur

    Obama is nothing more than a street hustler with good verbal skills. He was groomed by Pelosi and Reid, who are his Puppet Masters, to overthrow Republicans with the help of the media who was interested only in being part of a historic moment. Now watch the media start to question what this man is really about. When he fails, and he will, watch Pelosi and Reid throw him under the bus to save their worthless ass and the media will do what it does best, build them up and tear them down. MY disappointment is how so many people blindly follow the media and lack the discernment and ability to think for themselves. Watch what is going to happen....then ask yourself what do I think about my blind following of this man now? Stock market is scared to death of him because they know higher taxes and taxing the rich who supply jobs raises unemployment and the economy crashes. Don't worry about all that, Obama speaks well. He will have to when everyone realizes this is the year America died.

    November 6, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  5. Sue, Billerica, MA

    How about having a program in schools where next to the junk food and soda machines in high schools you have a donation machine, so students can decide whether to buy that junk food snack or instead put their money in a cure world hunger donation machine to do something charitable to help others and actually help themselves stay healthier!

    November 6, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  6. Tomasz

    One of the problems is "High Fructose Corn Syrup." How many ears of corn do you have to process to get 1 full cup of HFCS? That's potential food that has been wasted.
    Also Biofuels. How many ears of corn must be processed to get 1 gallon of fuel? More food wasteage.

    November 6, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  7. Max

    I wonder if MOST have noticed that animals AREN'T overweight if they GRAZE a lot or WALK a lot.

    (Just some of the lazy and OVERFED ones????)

    November 6, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  8. William of Iowa

    Your determination to make a difference is commendable. Reports have been made that by the year 2050, world population will increase to levels that will require every individual engaged in agriculture to produce 30% more. The loss of arable land worldwide threatens to reduce current levels of production. This is serious business and efforts now will heighten awareness for later – when all will be called upon.

    November 6, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  9. Penny

    The other issue facing families today is that prepared food and fast food are significantly cheaper than natural and fresh foods. Therefore it is more cost effective to pick up canned carrots instead of fresh even though canned is filled with preservatives and salt thus the reason they can sit on the shelvers for years.

    November 6, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  10. Sue, Billerica, MA

    Maybe it is time the government regulate the soda, the junk food and the fast food industry commercials the same way decades ago they regulated the cigarette and liquor industry commercials, for we are programmed by TV commercials since youth for the past generations to go for the soda instead of water or juice, to go for the junk food to just occupy us while watching TV, to go for fast food because we are overworked and don't have time to make a healthy meal, or a salad and yogurt just won't give us the pep we need to make it through our busy day... maybe if they regulate when soda, junk food and fast food commercials so they are less brainwashing to trigger us to buy buy buy at times when we are inactive, it would reverse this trend, but it would bankrupt the TV and soda, junk food and fast food industry and in this economy it will never happen.

    November 6, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  11. Cindy

    We have an obese epidemic because so many people eat too much junk food, don't eat healthy and don't hardly exercise if any at all. That is the real reason most people all over the world are overweight.

    I commend you all on giving a million dollars to food banks. It would seem now that they would really need it in this tough economy. Hopefully more companies will do the same.


    November 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm |