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CU Denver’s Anschutz Center hosts ABC’s ‘Extreme Weight Loss’


The state’s health and wellness sector got a good dose of publicity when the ABC documentary series “Extreme Weight Loss” descended on metro Denver.

The reality show, which premiered May 27, documents a 365-day weight-loss journey of 17 people classified as clinically obese. Participants spent the first 90 days at University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) in Aurora.

Dr. Holly Wyatt, medical director at AHWC, helped the program’s participants lose weight safely and learn how to keep it off.

“We’ve never had a doctor on the show with an expertise in weight loss,” said Matt Assmus, executive producer for the show. “Holly and the Anschutz team were very proactive with our participants by following their weight loss to seek out what was working and what wasn’t. We learned a lot about the science behind weight loss and the misconceptions of how weight loss works.”

The Anschutz Center offers some of the nation’s most advanced research, focusing on a comprehensive wellness approach that includes weight loss and management, fitness and nutrition. Wyatt monitored the participants’ weight loss, body composition, metabolic rate, calorie intake and other contributing factors.

According to Wyatt, the center’s location – in the leanest state in the nation with the lowest obesity rate – provides the prime environment for participants motivated to
lose weight.

“Bringing the show to Colorado was a no-brainer,” Assmus said. “Colorado is a fitness playground where people are healthy and active. The nation can pick up on what Coloradans are doing.”

Donald Zuckerman, director of Colorado’s Office of Film, Television and Media, says the show has a branding benefit for the university, the city of Aurora and the rest of the state.

Last December, the Colorado Health Institute in partnership with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) unveiled a statewide strategic plan to create jobs and economic growth in the health and wellness industry. In a report titled “Healthy Economy, Healthy Colorado: A Strategic Action Plan for Colorado’s Health and Wellness Industry,” the industry was pegged as a $40 billion annual economic driver with room to grow.

According to AHWC estimates, reviewed by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the “Extreme Weight Loss” participants and crew spent an estimated $450,000 that fed directly back into local businesses during the three months of filming. The show brought in nearly $91,000 for Aurora hotels, nearly $53,000 in housing rentals and $130,450 in local hires. The estimated total promotional value of the show, including TV mentions of AHWC and CU’s hospital facilities and services totaled roughly $5 million.

The publicity also got the ball rolling for the AHWC Destination Weight Loss program, set to start later this year. After a weeklong boot camp in Denver, the AHWC team will work with participating groups remotely for an entire year to track weight loss and other wellness goals.

 “We want to make Colorado the Silicon Valley of health and wellness,” says Dr. Jim Hill, executive director at AHWC. “Health and wellness is a great brand for Colorado. There are good ideas out there to create businesses in Colorado that are centered on making people healthy, and this show and program are just the beginning.”

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Katie Feldhaus

Katie Feldhaus is Business Development Manager for ColoradoBiz.. She can be reached at 303-662-5206 or kfeldhaus@cobizmag.com.

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