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Health & Wellness
Battling the Obesity Epidemic in the Workplace

The following is from my friend and colleague, From Efrem Dlugacz who is Vice President Global Total Rewards & Health Resource.

Having worked for many years handling benefits for Johnson & Johnson, I can tell you that employee wellness and disease prevention is as important as to me as ensuring employees have access to different treatment options. For many years, we’ve been encouraging employees to develop healthy lifestyles, and one of the most pressing challenges we face is figuring out a way to address the impact that inactivity and obesity have on our workforce.

In that, of course, we aren’t alone. Did you know that about two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese in the US and the direct and indirect cost of obesity-associated conditions in the United States is estimated at nearly $80 billion a year? People who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk for developing diabetes, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol and certain types of cancers – and for an employer, that can mean greater absenteeism and higher healthcare costs compared to non-obese employees.

But employers can help make a difference.

We’ve found that employees who are inactive, overweight or obese, benefit greatly from company sponsored programs that focus on healthy living, eating, and exercise. In 1978, Johnson & Johnson launched “Live for Life,” a program tailored to address individual employee health needs. Since then, we’ve developed, launched and measured a number of successful wellness and prevention programs and as a result, our employees are motivated and encouraged to improve their health and reduce related health care issues. As National Employee Health & Fitness Day approaches, we invite you to check out the following video about one Johnson & Johnson employee – Jessica Empestan – who benefited from these programs:

Helping employees manage their weight and healthier lifestyles are important for all businesses – not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it makes good business sense. Studies show that by combating obesity in the workplace we can decrease employee absenteeism, improve productivity and reduce health care costs. All these important benefits strengthen businesses in the long term. We believe society will not succeed in reducing health care costs and improving lives … until we pay as much attention to preventing disease and its complications as we do to treating it, or insuring care.