CDC launches Web site to help employers combat obesity, reduce costs
Officials said the goal of LEANWorks!, which stands for Leading Employees to Activity and Nutrition, is to help employers calculate the cost of obesity for their organizations and develop tailored approaches to help control these costs through interventions such as fitness classes, lunchtime health education sessions, and weight management programs.
"CDC LEANWorks! was developed in direct response to organizations asking CDC for help in addressing the obesity epidemic," said William Dietz, director of the agency's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. "Specifically, they wanted to know what interventions were effective in helping employees maintain a healthy weight. CDC has identified science-based interventions that work to prevent and control obesity."
Dietz said the free Web site was developed particularly for small and midsize companies, which typically have limited resources to devote to obesity prevention efforts. However, officials said the tools and resources available on the site can benefit companies of any size. Some of the resources on the site include:
- Obesity cost calculator. This tool allows employers to input employee demographic data to estimate the total costs associated with obesity and determine annual obesity-related medical costs for their companies.
- Sample intervention strategies. Information and resources help employers plan, build, promote and assess interventions to combat obesity.
- Return-on-investment tools. The site includes information on how employers can estimate return on investment, a measure of the cost of an intervention compared to the expected financial return of the intervention.
"Obesity affects more than just health care costs," said Janet Collins, director of the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "It also has a significant impact on worker productivity because the more chronic diseases employees have, the more likely they are to be absent from work, or less productive if they come to work sick."
Dietz said because most organizations do not publish information about their work site wellness programs in the scientific literature, the CDC visited select businesses to identify promising obesity prevention and control practices. The LEANWorks! site provides case studies from some of those businesses to provide examples of successful worksite obesity prevention programs.
Adult obesity continues to rise.
In addition to the Web site launch, the CDC also revealed the findings of the agency's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a state-based phone survey that collects health information from adults 18 and older. The data revealed that the proportion of adults who are obese increased to 26.1 percent in 2008 from 25.6 percent in 2007.
In six states -- Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia -- adult obesity prevalence was 30 percent or more. Twenty-six other states had obesity prevalence of 25 percent or more. Only one state, Colorado, had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent. However, researchers found that no state showed a significant decrease in obesity prevalence from 2007 to 2008.
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August 20, 2009
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