International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans found that:
- 49% of employers who have wellness initiatives offer a weight loss program
- 46% citing the need to control health care costs as reason for offering weight loss
- 35% claiming quality of life for employees as their reason for the offering
- Wellness competitions were the second most popular program under fitness and nutrition – 48% offering walking and fitness challenges
- 42% of employers provide healthier food in the cafeteria or snack areas
- 33% supply on-site fitness equipment
- 32% offer off-site fitness programs and gym reimbursements
Companies are getting the word out that they want their employees to lead a healthier lifestyle through:
- online resources (61%),
- health fairs (57%),
- nurse advice hotlines (53%) and
- wellness newsletters (52%), the survey report notes
Most wellness programs are relatively young, with 67% of employers indicating that their initiatives have been in existence for four years or less.
To drum up participation by employees, 80% of wellness programs entail some type of incentive.
The most popular incentives include:
- non-cash prizes (39%)
- gift cards (32%)
- 22% offer cash rewards and insurance premium reductions
Obesity According to Statistics Canada:
- Overweight Canadians are more likely to miss work or be unproductive at the office, and they report higher job stress and less support from their co-workers and bosses.
- Obesity rates in the Canadian workforce rose to 16% in 2005 from 13% a decade earlier
- The rate is rising fastest among men
- Obesity is most common among older workers aged 55 to 64
- Obese men under age 35 are almost four times more likely to miss work than those of normal weight
- Overweight people are also likely to retire earlier, and to draw lower salaries while on the job.
- More obese workers also report high job stress and low support from those they work with than their thinner counterparts
- The report says that while “higher job stress may precede obesity,” being obese in the workplace may also lead to stress.
- Men aged 35 to 54 in the bottom half of the earnings ladder are less likely to be obese than those in the top quarter, but women aged 18 to 54 with low income are more likely to be obese than high earners.
- More Canadian workers are overweight than are willing to admit it. Based on self-reported height and weight, 59% of working Canadian men were obese or overweight in 2005, but actual body measurements from the year before put that figure at 63%.
- For women, 39% of employed women aged 18 to 64 were considered overweight or obese, but measurements from 2004 show that 50% actually fell into that category.
The economic downturn will make it more difficult for more people to maintain a healthy weight as the increase in stress may also lead to an increase in stress-related eating and fewer people purchasing healthy food or maintaining gym and sport memberships.
Employers can help employees and help to control their health care costs by implementing weight loss programs, ensuring healthy are available in the cafeteria, snack machines and at company meetings and events and by promoting fitness on-site and in the community. A culture of wellness will encourage success and reduce obesity in our companies and positively impact our bottom line.
Do you feel obesity is a problem in your company?
Does your company support those who wish to lose weight or follow a healthy nutrition plan?
Does your company have a culture of wellness?
Leave us your comments!