Workforce Obesity: What Can You Do?

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What can you do to help workers maintain a healthy weight and keep your bottom line healthy at the same time? Read about a company that's helping its workers lose tons of weight.

 

Employees of Health Care Services Corporation (HCSC) lost more than 53,000 pounds last year. HCSC is the owner and operator of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

According to Senior Vice President Dr. Paul Handel, that amount tops the company’s 20-ton weight-loss goal. A robust wellness program including fitness centers, classes, and healthy cafeteria food are part of the solution.

"Many employers have viewed wellness programs as a nice extra when times are flush," says Handel. "We believe that the obesity epidemic and the rising toll of diabetes now make them a strategic imperative."

Financial incentives are an important part of the HCSC strategy. In addition to tying wellness to annual bonuses, the company offers employees additional incentives of up to $200 a year for taking an annual wellness exam and logging their physical activity.

Great news! BLR's renowned Safety.BLR.com® website now has even more timesaving features.

 

Other Strategies

The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), isn't about short-term dietary changes. It's about a lifestyle that includes:

·         Healthy eating;

·         Regular physical activity; and

·         Balancing the number of calories consumed with the number of calories the body uses.

According to CDC the first step in maintaining a healthy weight is to look at the current situation. Body Mass Index (BMI) is one way to measure weight. BMI calculations are based on height and weight:

·         A BMI of 18.5 signifies being underweight.

·         The range between 18.5 and 24.4 is considered to be a normal weight.

·         The range between 24.5 and 29.9 is considered to be overweight.

·         A BMI between 30 and 40 is considered to be obese.

·         BMI of 40 and greater is considered to be morbid or extreme obesity.

Your employees can calculate their BMI by going to


CDC's website
.


Survey: New wellness programs on the rise, existing ones to expand

By Marli D. Riggs | April 4, 2012

More plan sponsors continue to start wellness programs, while the majority of organizations with programs currently in place are looking to expand and invest, according to the 2011 Willis Health and Productivity Survey by Willis North America's Human Capital Practice.

According to the survey, 60% of respondents indicate they have some type of wellness program, an increase of 13% from 2010. Additionally, 58% indicate they plan to expand their wellness initiatives with added programs or resources.

“Wellness programs continue to evolve and it is encouraging to see more organizations initiate programs despite economic pressures and continuing challenges in accurately measuring outcomes and results,” says Jennifer Price, senior health outcomes consultant at Willis Human Capital Practice.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • The most common types of wellness programs being offered by respondents include: physical activity programs (53%), tobacco cessation programs (49%) and weight management programs (45%).
  • Although 29% of survey respondents consider themselves to be a global organization, only 15% indicate they have implemented a wellness program for their global employees.
  • Forty-three percent of plan sponsors say the leading barrier to measuring success was difficulty in determining the influence of wellness compared with other factors impacting health care costs.

This year’s survey included a subset of questions that also asked employers about work/life balance programs. Findings reveal that 51% of respondents reported promoting work/life balance programs within their worksite wellness program. After employee assistance programs, flexible start/end times are the most common offering of work/life balance program options, say 81% of respondents. The survey finds helping employees achieve work/life balance is reported to be a significant concern by 18% of respondents, and somewhat of a concern by 54%.

“It is exciting to see more employers offering work/life balance programs as a part of their broader wellness efforts. Employers seem to realize that employees need resources to find the proper balance between the demands of work and personal life,” adds Price.

The survey represents the findings received from 1,598 plan sponsors. Forty-four percent of respondents had 1,000 or more employees.