30 Aug 2011

Will a Wellness Program Make Your Company More Valuable?

There’s no nice way to say it.  We Americans are fat, and we get fatter every year.  According to the CDC; “About one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese.  Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.”

And it‘s getting worse.  The CDC predicts that one third of those born in 2000 will develop type two Diabetes, and some articles suggest that parents may possibly outlive their children.  

It’s a no brainer that a healthy employee is going to cost your company less than an employee that is likely to die in middle age due to cardiovascular disease and complications that come from obesity. 

The cost of healthcare premiums has doubled in the past ten years, according to the July 30th issue of The Economist. That makes it harder for your company to continue to offer healthcare.  But some companies have started to do more than “suggest” that their employees quit smoking, lean up, and adopt a healthier lifestyle.  Some companies have started to penalize the employees who don’t.  Many firms no longer allow smoking at their facilities.  In fact, The Economist cites GE Capital, who first offered their employees incentives for quitting smoking, and now, those who continue to smoke must pay an additional $650 for health insurance.

That’s where wellness programs excel.  Wellness professionals know how to build programs for your company that will inspire lasting change.  It’s one thing to lose 20 or more pounds, but to provide the education, information, and incentives to help your employee keep it off for a lifetime, quit smoking, and show their families how to do the same, is priceless on many levels.   

05 May 2011

Dead Man Walking

Humans often insist on continuing unhealthy behaviors and/or avoiding preventative scans, tests, exercise and wellness even when faced with catastrophic results.  Examples of this include; ignoring a lump in the breast until it’s too late, continuing a diet of heavy fried foods after a diagnosis of diabetes, or continuing to smoke after a diagnosis of lung cancer.

According to an April 8th article published by Healthfinder.gov; many patients diagnosed with lung cancer continue to smoke after being diagnosed.

"The biggest obstacle is fatalism, the belief that it is too late to quit smoking so why bother," said Kathryn E. Weaver, study lead author and assistant professor of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

That fatalism can also be said of a morbidly obese employee who feels “set apart” from her peers by her weight, then goes home to a family who is also morbidly obese.  If someone is entirely entrenched in an unhealthy lifestyle with people who are in the same boat, it may seem impossible to even imagine the changes that could be made.

Learning how to change a family’s “wellness picture” can be a life-changing experience for an employee.  But it takes more than a workout routine and the latest fad diet.  A corporate wellness program is meant to talk to and facilitate all of your employees; the athlete, and the person who needs a special hand to guide them to goals they didn’t even know were possible.  You never know when someone is ready to listen.

28 Mar 2011

Healthy or Not; Either Way You Pay

There’s an interesting blog written in the New York Times by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, cardiologist.  He raises a few very interesting points on the higher insurance premiums and taxes that cover uninsured people, not to mention the diseases that come from people that are overweight, or smoke.  He poses and answers the question, “Why do we (taxpayers and employers) have to pay for others’ bad habits?” 

We’ve cited the statistics of obesity in this blog many times, obesity is rapidly growing and so are its related diseases; heart disease and diabetes to name a few infamous killers.  Nevertheless, people continue to over-indulge in smoking and consuming food that makes them ill, resulting in increased morbidity risk.

On the other hand, Dr. Jauhar points out that the reason people turn to unhealthy food choices is often because it’s cheaper in this country to eat highly processed junk.  Picture a family of five with severely limited income.  Does it make more sense to buy 3 fast food meat and cheese biscuits for .99 cents each for the kids before school or to purchase one head of organic broccoli for four dollars for dinner?   Economic reality possibly creates a more empathetic picture.  Could this same family be taught the consequences of eating fast food every morning as well as some healthy, affordable alternatives?  Of course. 

Either way, employers like yourselves will pay the price in increased premiums and rates to cover your employees. 

The point?  We Americans are our own worst enemy.  We love our excesses.  It takes discipline, time and perseverance to adopt lasting change.  In the health industry today, we are in the absolute battle trenches when it comes to enlisting and convincing our employees and the country to put the time and finances necessary into providing alternatives that ultimately save money and lives.  We must do everything we can to educate and enlighten.  These alternatives include corporate wellness programs, fitness programs, accurate health risk management and coordination of incentives given for healthy progress. And it has to happen now.  Either way, we’re paying for it.

16 Dec 2010

Battleplan for 2011 - America too Fat to Fight?

I want to extend my very best holiday wishes from all of Plus One.  Our goals in the new year are to continue to close the gap between your employee’s wellness and healthcare needs and our expertise.  Our country’s obesity rate continues to rise, costing your company more in insurance costs.  An article in the Nov. 29, 2010 Newsweek Magazine claims that America’s great income disparity is widening the gap between the obese and the socially elite. 

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics doesn’t necessarily agree, stating that “the obesity epidemic is hitting young and older Americans across the economic spectrum.”

According to CNN Opinion, American young adults are unbelievably now becoming “too fat to fight”.  The military has had to adjust its bodyweight and body-fat expectations.  The past requirement for young male recruits was a 26% body-fat, which is generous.  They now will recruit men with 30% body-fat if they are otherwise healthy, even though that is considered to be between overweight and obese. 

So, we can all agree America is too fat.  But have we ever been too fat to defend our country before?

11 Aug 2010

Arm Your Team to Win the Battle of the Bulge

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services challenged our country with a national health objective called “Healthy People 2010”.  The goal was to reduce obesity to 15% of the entire population for each of the 50 states.

Results were bleak: not one state in the country was able to meet the challenge.  Mississippi weighed in heaviest at 34.4%.  Only two states, Colorado and Washington D.C., had rates below 20%.  Even bleaker, the results were self-reported which has shown that participants typically overstate their height and understate their weight.

The report says that the price tag on our collective obesity issue has reached a hefty $147 billion dollars a year.  The director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Thomas Frieden, noted that not only did every state fail to reach their target, but that nationwide “obesity rates have doubled in adults and tripled in children” over the past few decades.

Fearsome numbers to say the least, and they draw a bright red line from your company to corporate health promotion.  Why?  Increased national obesity means increased death and illness from related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Any company that offers health insurance as a health benefit is directly affected by that $147 billion price tag.

There are numerous benefits of corporate wellness, including providing on-site foot soldiers in the war against obesity that know how to produce sophisticated, effective programs, results, and education.  Workplace wellness boosts employee morale, reduces stress and directly influences your company’s retention and talent pool.

It’s a war you need to win.  Arm your company accordingly.

27 Jan 2010

Employee Wellness Programs Deliver Rewards - The Surgeon General Says So

According to the CDC and the Surgeon General’s report, millions of Americans have diseases that could have been entirely prevented with regular physical exercise. The numbers are overwhelming: 13.5 Americans have coronary heart disease, 8 million Americans have adult onset diabetes, 95,000 of us are diagnosed with colon cancer every year, and about 1.5 million people experience a heart attack in a year.

30 Dec 2009

Reducing Your Company Waistline: Essential to Improving Your Bottom Line

One of the most effective ways for your employees to lose weight is to practice portion control.

16 Dec 2009

Putting Workplace Wellness to Work

Obesity is a nationwide epidemic.  Type II Diabetes is rampant among our children.  According to the CDC, 1 in 3 children born in the United States will become diabetic.  A smart company knows it’s not enough to focus on the individual employee; we need to empower them to take what they learn about wellness at work home to their families.  There are some meaningful changes that will make tremendous improvements in the culture of health in your employees’ h

04 Nov 2009

Combating Obesity is Everyone's Business

In my last blog I talked about how obesity starves your company’s bottom line.  But I also wonder how you take a population of people who are wired differently than normal weight people and convince them to make a change?  People like to make their own choices, even if they are bad ones. Obese Americans know that excess weight reduces their lifespan by about 2.5 years, yet obesity rates continue to rise.

21 Oct 2009

The Numbers Don't Lie - Obesity Starves Your Bottom Line

According to the Director of the C.D.C, Thomas Frieden: “Obesity, and with it diabetes, are the only major health problems that are getting worse in this country, and they’re getting worse rapidly.”  This statement is backed up by numbers published in a study in the journal Health Affairs.