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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Employers Have a Part to Play in Curbing Obesity Epidemic
03/17/2008

Click to listen to this taped broadcast.

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

The rate of obesity in the United States has more than doubled in the last 30 years, and the data indicates the numbers will continue to rise. The direct and indirect costs of obesity amount to more than $117 billion each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But the costs don’t stop there. Obesity can dramatically increase the risk of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, sleep disorders, some cancers, musculoskeletal disorders, and more. If the current obesity trend continues, by 2020, one in five health care dollars spent on Americans ages 50 to 69 will be obesity-related costs, according to a RAND Corporation study.

Employers bear a significant portion of costs associated with treating obesity-related conditions, so it makes sense for employers to take an active role in finding solutions.

One example of an approach Texas Health Resources took this year was to offer employees a $75 gift card to participate in on-site health fairs with free screenings for key biometrics. The screenings include body mass index, body fat percentage, blood cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure, and we provide one-on-one counseling to help our workers understand their results.

The goal is for each employee who participates to leave with a better understanding of their total health picture, and hopefully with a new resolve to Be Healthy.

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

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