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Mid-Southerners challenged to lose one million pounds in three years with new app

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is using technology to help mid-southerners lose a million pounds over three-years.

The recently announced initiative is driven by a free smartphone app.

MLH challenges the region to download its new weight loss app – Healthier901 – to support better health daily.

Healthier901 was created to reduce the risks for heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in Shelby County and neighboring Desoto County, Mississippi.

MLH reported these findings in its 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment, a comprehensive survey the hospital conducts every three years.

Obesity, a key risk factor for heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes, reveals that maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for disease prevention.

Poverty, mental health status and limited access to health services also contribute to chronic diseases, according to the report.

“We can do what very few others have done and we’re going to do it together,” said Michael Ugwueke, president and CEO for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

“Our neighbors and community members are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases every day. This challenge was built to help people in the Mid-South live healthier lives and make lasting changes for future generations.”

Over the next three years, the Healthier901 app will provide tools and tips to help residents focus on factors in wellness, including weight loss and ways to gain better control of overall health.

The customizable app is compatible with Fitbit, Apple Watch and Samsung Health technologies, and allows participants to enter their weight and health data, and track weight loss progress.

Using the app, participants can connect with fellow users, invite friends or co-workers, and engage in events and activities, all while choosing options for healthier eating and daily physical activity.

More than 42 percent of Americans are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raising the risks for weight-related diseases, higher healthcare costs and daily living difficulties.

In 2022, a WalletHub report compared 100 U.S. cities to identify those with the most weight-related health struggles.

Memphis ranked second in obesity only behind McAllen, Texas, based on 19 factors.

MLH – the best hospital in the Mid-South according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2023-2024 ranking – is addressing this concern through Healthier901.

The app will capture combined weight loss data by zip code.

“Healthier901 is for the entire family, no matter where each person is on their health journey,” said Ugwueke.

“Building and maintaining a supportive community is key for long-term success.”


Healthier901 kick-off event


On Saturday, Sept. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., MLH will kick-off its Healthier901 initiative during a free event at Shelby Farms Park, Memphis.

Open to the public, the event will feature healthy cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs, live fitness workouts for all physical levels, onsite health screenings, family fun activities for children and adults, and sponsor giveaways.

Physicians will be on hand to answer health questions.

Event sponsors include Action News 5, Nike, Kroger, Cigna Healthcare and other community partners.

“We are incredibly grateful to our generous sponsors who understand the dire need for this initiative and the challenges our community faces when pursuing a healthier lifestyle,” said Ugwueke.

“There is power in numbers, and together, we are committed to creating pathways to success for anyone in our community.”

John Webb, president of Cigna Healthcare Tri-South, said, “We are proud to partner with Methodist Le Bonheur on this important program to improve the health and vitality of the Memphis community.”

“Together, we’re building on our longtime relationship with MLH to help the people we both serve live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

MLH will soon announce more details about the kickoff event.

Employees of MLH had first access to the app on Aug. 9; public access starts later in August.

At the end of three-years, MLH will review wide-reaching effects of the app, including total pounds lost, participant feedback and health-related outcomes.

“Whether you lose 10 pounds, 100 pounds or just become more active, Healthier901 can yield tremendous health benefits for everyone,” said Tabrina Davis, vice president of MLH Marketing & Communications.

Through media partners, the public can track the region’s weight loss progress from month to month, she said.


(For more information and to enroll in the Healthier901 challenge, visit: Healthier901.com.)

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