It would be interesting to know more of the back story that led some Mississippi lawmakers to spend $1.5 million so that Weight Watchers could help the state’s more portly educators slim down. The five-year expense is one of the earmarks that the Clarion Ledger has uncovered in its investigation into ways the Legislature has diverted education money for its pet projects or well-connected vendors.
According to the Jackson newspaper’s research, Weight Watchers received $300,000 a year from 2011 to 2016 regardless of how many teachers or staff signed up for the state-subsidized 15-week course. The more that participation dwindled, the better the deal became for Weight Watchers. Over the course of the five years, Weight Watchers received nearly $600,000 for doing nothing.
Maybe the argument is that educators who are in better shape get sick less, miss less work and have fewer claims against the state’s health insurance. But is it really the Legislature’s business to try to entice healthier behavior by one segment of its workforce?