Gaining Weight on the Job?
Companies are weighing in to help busy professionals fight the battle of the bulge.
Overweight Employees Cost Billions
That can add up to a huge tab for a company. Medical
expenditures on American employees and dependents exceed $900 billion each
year, according to the study.
"Age, gender, race, educational attainment, and smoking all
failed to predict obesity-related health-care costs," says researcher Tim
Bungum, PhD. "The lone significant predictor of health-care costs was
"Obviously, an employee who is here and productive and
healthy at work is going to benefit the company more than the employee who's
absent or feeling marginally good when they're at work or having other physical
problems," says Poll.
A Healthier Employee Is a Happier Employee
With that in mind, other companies such as Xerox have also
caught on. "There is value to both the employee and the corporation in
providing convenient opportunities for health improvement. Xerox certainly
believes that healthy, happy employees are productive employees resulting in
lower medical care costs for employees and the company, " Sandi Alexander
Tuttle, manager at Xerox Recreation Association, tells WebMD.
Xerox has an on-site exercise facility with yoga, aerobics
classes, nutritional seminars, wellness newsletters, and a weight-loss group
that meets once a week. The company also offers nutritious snacks in its
vending machines and healthy menu items complete with nutritional value
information in its cafeterias across the nation.
Other companies are incorporating healthy initiatives, too.
After performing a health-risk appraisal among employees at Emory University in
Atlanta, the school implemented numerous wellness initiatives. The Carter
Center, a division of Emory, has a free gym, personal training workshops, a
walking group, and tai chi at the office.
"Offering programs directly for [company] employees is
helpful. The bottom line is to educate people and to help people learn how to
implement this in their lives. It will save companies money in the long run if
they do whatever they need to do to help wellness and disease prevention,"
Quick Tips for Office Fitness
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a gym at the job or a
free nutritionist at his or her beck and call. But there are a few simple
things busy professionals can do to burn a few extra calories on the run.
Health educator and certified fitness trainer Kristl Buluran helps manage the
Health Matters program at the University of California in Berkeley. She
specializes in teaching "office workouts." She suggests:
- Take stairs
- Park your car farther away from the office
- Stretch at your desk
- Keep your desk stocked with low-fat, low-calorie snacks to prevent vending
- Take the long route to the restroom
- Walk over to co-workers instead of calling or emailing
Experts say that wellness is about more than weight management:
It's about the total picture of treating mind, body, and soul. With heart
disease being the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., maybe more companies will
soon mix in a Pilates session or two to help balance out that next afternoon