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Companies Pay Employees For Weight Loss

Posted by weigthloss-diets Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Many employers are looking for ways to help their employees with weight loss. They want their staff to lose weight and get healthier, and one way to accomplish this is by offering different financial opportunities. Companies have started offering financial incentives to help push staff in the direction of more healthy eating, living and hence, weight loss
At least 1/3 of United States companies are either currently offering financial incentives or plan to do so to encourage weight loss. However, the question was asked about the efficacy of this plan of offering money for losing weight. There is debate. Some say that "Dieting for Dollars" will not put a dent in America's large obesity epidemic. Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity stated, "It's probably a waste of time." However, Dr. Kevin Volpp, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Incentives, stated, "There's been an explosion of interest in this."
There haven't been many studies as to whether or not paying employees money to lose weight is an effective tool for weight loss in their staff, as only 15 to 20 United States studies have been reported, but the results of these studies seem favorable to the idea. How much money it would take to be enough of an incentive for an employee to lose weight was never clear.
There are weight loss success stories though, where the incentive to lose the weight was money. Out of 9,000 employees at OhioHealth, a hospital chain, where most of the employees are overweight, half of staff joined a financial incentive program to lose weight by wearing a pedometer and getting paid to walk. They were afforded up to $500 a year. Over $377,000 was paid to the employees and many of the workers were successful in shedding pounds and needing smaller sized clothing.

A small observational study done at Cornell University looked seven employer programs which did not show promising for employees being encouraged by money to lose weight. The average weight was a little more than only one single pound. Studies like this are not encouraging, but there is still room for optimism for other studies have reported success in "Dieting for Dollars." It was noted that one of the issues with getting employees in companies to lose weight is that people at work are constantly taking lunch and even dinner breaks at restaurants. Meetings are being held at restaurants and it tends to be much harder to lose weight when eating out

Steven Kelder, an epidemiology professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health believes that food is more difficult an addiction to kick than is tobacco. He shared that while cigarettes can be addictive, people don't need to smoke to live, and advertising for cigarettes is not as widely advertised as food is. Snack machines containing sugary and unhealthy snacks are every where, but fruit and vegetable stands are not present in the workplace or in other buildings.

It seems that in order for these weight loss programs using monetary incentives to be successful, companies are going to have to become more active. Companies need to encourage employees to have regular health evaluations and to enroll in exercise classes. They should open small gyms within their buildings or give free or discounted memberships to outside gyms. They should put more healthy snacks in their office vending machines. Two of the most important changes that companies should make, despite their budget restrictions, if they want to be successful in helping their employees with their weight loss fights, are to lower health insurance premiums and to offer financial incentives that are large enough to make an employee interested in doing the hard work it takes to lose weight.


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