Employers Tip the Scales of Weight Loss Success

July 15, 2004
While obesity remains a serious health condition affecting millions of Americans and costing U.S. businesses $13 billion annually in health care costs and productivity, a recent study commissioned by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Inc. (AAOHN) sheds new light on ways businesses can help employees shed pounds.

According to the survey, workplace weight-management programs play a tremendous role in helping employees achieve weight loss. In fact, nearly half of all respondents who claimed to participate in workplace weight-management programs reported success in reaching and maintaining their long-term goals.

"AAOHN's study found that only 2 percent of the working population claims to have participated in an employer-sponsored weight-management program. However, of those who have participated, nearly 50 percent reached and maintained their weight-loss goals," said AAOHN President Susan A. Randolph. "These findings are significant, indicating the value of workplace weight-management programs, and representing a call to action for more businesses to provide employees with the types of onsite wellness programs that speak directly to obesity, and for more employees to take advantage of these programs."

Employees said there were a number of reasons for their workplace weight-loss success, all of which seem to be directly tied to motivators found within a work environment. Some of the factors included:

  • Built-in support groups Created through peer/co-worker motivation
  • Trained professional guidance Onsite professionals such as occupational and environmental health nurses that implement and provide guidance during the program
  • Convenience Accessibility of onsite exercise classes, dieticians, healthier food in cafeterias and workout facilities.
  • Encouragement Employer incentives and encouragement by other employees to help them reach their weight goals

Employers offered numerous weight management programs, and the activities used most often by employees included:

  • On-site visits by trained health and wellness professionals (38 percent)
  • Gym memberships (23 percent)
  • Educational opportunities, such as a health series or seminar (16 percent)
  • Diets with outlined goals (14 percent)
  • On-site exercise classes (13 percent)
About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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