You may have read this before, but
it bears repeating since it affects
the health of your workforce and your employee benefits costs: Americans are
overweight each year.
In fact, Thomas B. Gilliam, Ph.D., co-author of Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy,
explains in his book that "normal weight" employees made
up about 33 percent of the workforce in 2000 and only 23 percent of the workforce
in 2005. He also states that employees who would be considered obese comprised
29 percent of the workforce in
2000 and 37 percent in 2005.
Note: A person whose body mass index, or BMI, is 30 or more is
considered obese. Individuals'
BMI are calculated as their weight
in pounds divided by the square
of their height in inches, then
multiplied by 703.
Gilliam also points out that obesity costs employers plenty, and with
the number of obese employees growing, the cost will continue to
He says that the average cost of a worker's disability claim caused
by obesity in 2004 was $51,000
Ways to Help
Here are a few tips that Gilliam covers in his book to assist you
in jogging your employees into developing a healthier lifestyle
and maintaining healthy weights:
- Broach the subject in terms of overall health, not just weight.
Remind people that losing weight may help them ward off future health problems
such as hip and knee replacements, diabetes, heart disease, and possibly cancer.
- Be inclusive. Don't just single
out obese people. Offer a
wellness program that emphasizes lifestyle changes--eating healthful,
nutritious foods and engaging in regular exercise.
- Teach employees the basics of weight loss and get them excited
about good nutrition. Encourage employees to share healthy recipes or take
turns bringing in fresh fruits, vegetable trays, or other
low-fat snacks to share.
- Foster employee exercise groups. People are more likely to sustain
an exercise program--walking, running or aerobics--when they have
company during their workouts.
For additional information, visit www.healthybodyweight.com.