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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Targeting Obesity: Employee Wellness Programs

Click to hear the taped broadcast.

I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

A recent study by the National Health Information Center revealed that overweight and obese Americans cost the economy $270 billion per year. The prevalence of obesity in the United States has risen steadily since 1985, with the number of obese people more than tripling in some states during that time.*

Employers have an important part to play in recognizing the obesity epidemic as a threat to our economy as well as our health, and taking steps to help employees reach and maintain a healthy weight. One approach is offering employer-sponsored wellness programs. Such programs are on the rise, nearly doubling between 1998 and 2008.**

Some studies estimate that employers offering wellness programs see as much as a 3-to-1 return on investment. But ROI should not be the only factor influencing a decision to offer employee wellness programs.

Research indicates that such programs encourage employee engagement and retention. A recent Well-Being Index by Principal Financial Group found that 45 percent of workers at small- to mid-sized companies said they would stay longer in their jobs because of wellness programs. The survey also found that 40 percent of workers say they work harder and perform better by participating in such programs.

For Texas Health Resources and its family of faith-based hospitals — Texas Health Harris Methodist, Texas Health Presbyterian and Texas Health Arlington Memorial — I’m Doug Hawthorne.

* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
** Bureau of Labor Statistics

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