obesity workplace wellness

Report: How Workplace Wellness Can Help Address ‘State of Obesity’

Last week we reported on a new U.S. obesity report that shows that focused programs can make a positive difference in obesity rates.

A deeper dive into the actual State of Obesity report reveals something else: Clear evidence of the benefits of a well-run workplace wellness program.

As the report headlines: “Workplace wellness programs boost employee health and productivity and reduce absenteeism.”

The report states: “Research demonstrates that multicomponent workplace wellness programs can be an important strategy in preventing and reducing obesity. A number of reviews have found these initiatives can pay for themselves by increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism. They also have been shown to reduce weight, body fat and BMI, and increase physical activity. Many state health departments have developed resources to assist employers in creating effective wellness programs, such as the Work Well Texas program discussed in a subsequent section.”

Some of the focus comes in nutritional programs: “Worksite nutritional programs have similarly positive effects, boosting employee health and productivity and reducing absenteeism. Like governments, businesses can require that all food sold on its premises — in workplace cafeterias and vending machines — meet established nutritional standards. Businesses that offer employer-based healthcare can make sure their plans cover obesity-prevention services including BMI screening, and nutrition and physical activity counseling.”

Further, action from businesses can make a real impact on local communities — thereby extending the business’ benefits.

The authors write: “Business investments are also needed to create healthier communities. There need to be increased investments and incentives for the food industry to build supermarkets and set up farmers’ markets in low-income communities. Examples of business initiatives include incentivizing fitness companies to develop gyms and other recreation facilities in underserved neighborhoods; supporting transportation initiatives to work with government on all levels to plan and build communities that encourage walking, biking and taking public transportation; and engaging the healthcare industry to support a broad range of community programs.”