Battle of the Bulge: 3 Creative Ways to Combat Employee Obesity

Friendship and fitness in the parkAmerica’s obesity epidemic is weighing heavily on our healthcare system, and employers are paying the hefty price. More than half (57%) of American workers now classify themselves as overweight, up from 55% last year[1]. To make matters worse, obesity can lead to costly healthcare issues, from heart disease to diabetes. In fact, obesity now exceeds smoking as the most expensive health threat in America, adding a whopping $190 billion to the national healthcare price tag each year[2].

Unless employers want to foot the bill for these pricey health problems, it’s in their best interest to help employees slim down and get fit. Now is the time for brokers to introduce creative programs for employers to encourage healthy behaviors—and in turn, tighten the belt on healthcare costs.

Here are three unique slim-down solutions for employers:

#1: Biometric Screenings

Biometric screenings are an effective way to discover employee health issues before they become major problems and cost the employer big bucks. Because these screenings often catch health risks early on, employees have time to seek medical attention and change their habits. Perhaps that’s why the percentage of employers offering Biometric screenings have leaped from 29% to 41% this year[3].

#2: Health Challenges

The number of employers offering health or fitness challenges jumped from 52% in 2012 to 59% in 2014[4]. These challenges tap into workers’ competitive spirit and motivate them to get fit. Here at New Benefits, we hold a yearly Slimpossible contest where employees create teams and win cash for the highest percentage of weight loss. Contestants weigh in every Friday. They must pay one dollar if they gain weight or five dollars if they choose to skip the weigh-in. It’s a great team-building exercise and a fun way to make employees more mindful of their eating and exercise habits.

#3: Wellness Programs

According to Optum, 80% of wellness budgets have increased or stayed the same this past year, and it’s no wonder why. Wellness programs help employees stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle. At New Benefits, we offer two distinct wellness solutions.

First, there’s Health Wealth Connection, a comprehensive information resource for employees looking to improve both their physical and financial health. Since financial stress can unquestionably lead to poor physical health, employees benefit from having unlimited access to articles and videos from experts like Suze Orman and Deepak Chopra. Secondly, we offer MyEWellness, another creative solution that provides employees with personalized fitness plans, guided assessments and health-related articles and tips.

Of course, these are just a few ways employers can encourage workers to stay healthy, happy and productive. Employers may also consider providing healthy food options at the office. For example, New Benefits provides employees with nutritious breakfast options including fruit, yogurt, oatmeal and granola bars every Friday. This is a cost effective way to get employees thinking about what they eat—not to mention a powerful way to boost morale and productivity.

Marti Powles COO–Marti Powles, COO

Copyright © 2015 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

[1] According to a survey of 3,105 full-time non-government and not self-employed workers aged 18 and over by the Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder.com between February 11 and March 6, 2015.

[2] According to a 2012 Reuters report.  [3] Source: Optum [4] Source: Optum

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