Obesity is being touted as the next epidemic in the United States. With more than 65 percent of the American population of adults considered either overweight or obese, chances are many employees at your company also struggle with their weight. These obese individuals are more likely to miss days from work due to illness and are more likely to suffer from medical conditions that will tax your company's already skyrocketing medical premiums.
Although making a decision to lose weight and live a health life is ultimately up to the employee, companies can help encourage employees to improve their health in many ways. Some strategies used by other companies to promote healthy living and weight loss include:
Provide discounted health-club memberships. If employees receive a discount to belong to a health-club facility nearby, they will be more likely to take advantage of the offer and sign up.
Host healthy-living and weight-loss seminars. One of the major challenges an obese employee might have when it comes to weight loss is knowing where to start. Bring in occasional speakers from the community--from dieticians and nutritionists to personal trainers and weight-loss consultants. Provide a different topic for each seminar that can help employees make small changes that will hopefully, eventually, yield big results.
Start a company fitness club. This club could include prizes for employees who meet their exercise and weight-loss goals, or could be something as simple as a walking group to encourage employees, particularly those who are obese, to spend a half-hour of their hour-long lunch break walking outside. Provide a signup sheet or other communiqué so employees can meet up with others who also might like to walk off their weight at lunch.
Clean out the vending machines. If your office's break-room options are limited to chips, cookies and soda, it's time for a change. Ask your vendor to change out much of the unhealthy fare with items such as granola bars, baked chips, roasted almonds and juice.
Offer support. If employees want to make a concerted effort to lose unhealthy pounds or improve their health, consider providing some financial support. Forge a partnership with your local Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers so employees who need help losing weight can receive support at a discount. Offer free or subsidized smoking cessation courses.
December 1, 2007
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