While employers across the country are taking measures to address obesity in the workplace, much work remains to be done, and businesses need additional tools and resources, especially among small and mid-size organizations. These findings were reported following a survey of more than 500 businesses conducted by the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH) and the National Safety Council (NSC). The study was undertaken to better understand the employer attitudes and needs regarding obesity prevention and management. The survey data and recommendations for employers can be viewed at the NBCH website.
According to expert projections in Duke University’s American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 42 percent of Americans will be obese in 2030. And as the rates of overweight Americans climb to epidemic levels, costly chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are also rising. Obesity also affects worker productivity and personal quality of life.
The survey indicated the following trends:
· Obesity prevention and weight control are most effective as integral parts of a more comprehensive health and wellness program.
· Leadership should be present at all levels of the workplace and include community partners to address employee health issues.
· Employers require better information about how obesity affects worker safety and health, along with data on the associated cost burden.
· Respondents reported that they are currently investing in obesity prevention, and those who are not are interested in learning what they might do to tackle the issue, and how to evaluate success.
Andrew Webber, NBCH president and CEO reported the following: “Given the amount of time an employee is at their place of work, there is an opportunity to positively influence the choices they make about their health. A workplace that emphasizes health is more likely to have policies that promote healthy behavior such as incentives and access to health resources. While large employers have been at this for some time, small- to mid-sized employers have been less engaged, but are increasingly seeing the value of these types of programs.”
“This project was very helpful to us in understanding the small employer perspective,” said Jason Lang, MPH, MS, Team Lead, Workplace Health Programs, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We were able to use findings to inform the development of obesity prevention and control strategies and tools for the Program, which is focused on helping small employers, build comprehensive workplace health programs.”
NBCH is a national, non-profit organization of business and health coalitions, representing over 7,000 employers and 25 million employees across the United States. For additional information visit: www.nbch.org.
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