Weight managementWith rising obesity rates, employers have a unique opportunity to help their employees manage this risk. Learn what steps you can take to develop or improve your weight management program.   

 

 

Why Weight Management Needs to be Part of your Wellness Strategy

Weight managementDuring the past 30 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, roughly 30 percent of Americans were obese in 2014, and that number continues to rise. 

Weight by the Numbers

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. 
  • Overweight is defined as having a BMI between 25 and 29.9. 
  • Approximately 30% of American adults are obese. 
  • Roughly 40% of Americans are overweight.

With obesity a driving risk factor in many costly, chronic health conditions, employers have a vested interest in helping employees manage their weight. Not only do these chronic conditions impact health care costs, they also affect overall productivity and engagement in the workplace.

Sue Blankenhagen, Wellness Program Specialist at Ceridian, explains that the cost of obesity extends beyond just health expenses. She notes, “Indirect costs of poor health, such as absenteeism, disability or reduced work output, affects all employers, even those who avoid direct medical costs by not funding health insurance. According to the CDC, productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers roughly $1,685 per employee per year.”

Growing opportunities in the workplace

The health implications from obesity, including the increased risk of diseases and health conditions such as coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke and others, have an impact on the overall health of Americans and the U.S. health care system as a whole – a burden estimated to cost $147 billion per year and rising.

For the 139 million Americans who spend roughly a third of their days in the workplace, corporate wellness programs can offer a unique solution to many of their health and well-being challenges. By developing strategic wellness and weight management programs, employers can foster health-conscious work environments and provide opportunities for employees to be healthier overall.

As you prioritize your weight management strategy, one of the first steps should include establishing tangible goals to measure your program’s success. Examples might include goals similar to the following:

Smart goals
  • 60% of employees will complete the health risk assessment during our open enrollment period
  • 5% of employees will engage in a telephonic health coaching program by the end of the year
  • The organization will promote each health coaching program to employees one time per quarter

Establishing SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely – will help you set the bar for program evaluation and give you a baseline target for which to aim.

Driving program awareness and participation

Blankenhagen notes that one of the biggest challenges many employers face is driving awareness of wellness program opportunities within a company. She says, “If you can’t effectively reach your employees or if they are unaware of corporate programs, it won’t matter how great the program is." Partner with your employee assistance or wellness program vendor on communication resources you can use to promote your program.

As you take steps to develop or improve your weight management program, consider the following practical ways you can promote healthy habits in the workplace and work towards driving long-term behavior change.

  • Use signage to promote taking the stairs
  • Create designated indoor and outdoor walking paths
  • Offer gym discounts or install an onsite gym
  • Promote healthy eating and exercise challenges; distribute health newsletters
  • Ensure there is healthy cafeteria and vending machine food options; include calorie counts
  • Offer health coaching and/or Weight Watchers at Work
  • Organize recreation leagues for sports like golfing, basketball, softball or skiing

For more information:

  • Watch our webinar replay on employee weight management
  • View our infographic on corporate wellness trends
  • Learn about Ceridian LifeWorks Employee Assistance, Work-Life and Wellness Programs