Employee Wellness Programs Help Combat Obesity Epidemic

by: Nichole Gunn January 4, 2011

Among the growing health conditions that American workers have is a new epidemic: obesity. This growing problem affects one out of four U.S. citizens. In addition to obesity contributing to chronic illnesses, it affects healthcare costs for both the employee and employer.

The government and healthcare professionals are aware of the concern obesity is for the nation’s overall health and vitality, but it is also a concern in regard to the its economic implications.

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, conducted research that demonstrated, employers in the U.S. spend $73.1 billion in healthcare costs for employees who fall into the obese category. To be considered obese, an individual’s body-mass index must be at 30. The study showed that individuals with a body-mass index of 35 constitute 37% of the obesity population. Those individuals account for “61% of excess healthcare costs.”

Incentive and health experts are strongly urging employers to implement comprehensive employee wellness programs to help fight the obesity epidemic. Helping employees to learn a healthier lifestyle, offering them discounts to gyms and other weight loss options, and/or providing activity areas at the workplace will go a long way in improving their health. This in turn will provide employers with reduced healthcare costs.