Small changes can add up for obese employees

Weight loss strategies are everywhere. They pop up on our computers, our cellphones and televisions because they have an audience. Consider this: In 2009, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7 percent) were considered obese.1

The American Medical Association recently designated obesity as a disease. It’s more important than ever for employers to emphasize preventive measures to help lessen the impact of obesity in the workforce.

Employee-focused strategies
How can an employer provide helpful, holistic and substantive assistance to employees who want to lose weight? The following tactics can be integrated into a workforce that currently has — or is working toward — wellness goals.

Get your employees active
We’ve posted previously on the benefits of implementing a formal wellness program in your organization. Benefits include weight reduction, increased stamina and reduced stress. Think of incorporating these engaging ideas into your program:

  • Employer-based weight loss contests are a fun way to challenge employees to try to see who can shed the largest number of pounds.
  • Smartphones offer multiple apps to track calories with Web versions, too.
  • Starting up a lunchtime walking group or after-hours team sport can support all body types. These fun activities can help employees lose weight and improve endurance as they train.

Smart food choices in the workplace
As I’ve written about previously, employers can set the tone for healthy food choices in the workplace. Here are a few other ideas that promote a sense of community and can help employees make good food choices or:

  • Collaborate with a proven resource or service that assists with weight loss. Offer worksite location meetings and support groups as well as online options.
  • Connect employees with an employee assistance program or registered dietician. Typically, no referral is needed to see a dietician. Charges for an initial hour consultation are $100 to $200. A registered dietician can customize a diet plan with realistic calorie counts, goals and expectations.
  • Offer healthy food choices in your cafeteria. Listing the nutritional information of daily specials can help educate employees on their food options.

Adding these programs and healthy options at work can help your employees lose weight and improve their overall health. They also can result in a reduction of your medical costs.

1Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal, KM. Prevalence of Obesity in the United States, 2009–2010. National Center for Health Statistics. Available at Accessed September 26, 2013.

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