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Taking off the Pounds Sensibly (TOPS)

Review

 

TOPS - an acronym for "Taking Pounds Off Sensibly" - is a nonprofit, non-commercial weight loss support organization headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that has chapters located worldwide. TOPS exists both to encourage healthy lifestyles through weight-management support groups, and to sponsor obesity research. TOPS has about 10,000 chapters - and approximately 170,000 members -worldwide.

TOPS was founded in 1948 as a support group organization to assist obese people in losing weight. Over time, as eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia became recognized in medicine, TOPS expanded its scope to include people with all manner of weight management problems. TOPS funded an obesity and metabolic research program at the Medical College of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1966. To date, more than $6 million from TOPS earnings and member contributions have funded the program, which has published findings in more than 140 papers in medical journals.

TOPS chapters hold a weekly meeting for members, run by volunteer leaders who are elected by the members. Weigh-ins are private. Meetings serve to provide nutrition and exercise education, and positive reinforcement and motivation. Additionally, TOPS created an insiders club for members who successfully reach their goal weight and stay there. Admission in the KOPS (Keeps Off Pounds Sensibly) club gives recognition to successful TOPS memmbers, and helps encourage and foster a sense of competition and reward for achievement in other members of TOPS.

Dues are $26 annually in the United States - $30 in Canada - plus nominal chapter fees to cover operating costs, which are on average less than $5 per month. Included in your membership fee are a copy of the TOPS healthy lifestyle guide, access to TOPS retreats, rallies, and recognition days and the membership magazine called TOPS News. Bottom line: an inexpensive program with its heart and mind in the right place. A winner.

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