By Joan Weems, Victory Home Health, Texoma LIVING WELL Magazine
Obesity is common, serious and costly
- More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese.
- Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.
- The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $150 billion yearly; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight, which is 42% higher than a person with a healthy weight.
- At least 30% or more of adults are obese in 13 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
- Globally: 1.5 billion adults are overweight or obese.
Over the last 30 years the rate of obesity has skyrocketed in the U.S. While the cause of this dramatic increase can be debated, the significant impact to the health of Americans cannot. Excess weight is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, certain cancers, sleep apnea and diabetes. In fact, obesity is likely the single most important factor in the ongoing diabetes epidemic, with 85% of individuals with diabetes being overweight.
Obesity and socioeconomic status and ethnic groups
- Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (49.5%) compared with Mexican Americans (40.4%), Hispanics (39.1%) and Caucasians (34.3%).
- Among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men, those with higher incomes are more likely to be obese than those with low income.
- Higher income women are less likely to be obese than low-income women.
- There is no significant relationship between obesity and education among men. Among women, however, there is a trend—those with college degrees are less likely to be obese compared with less educated women.
- Between 1988–1994 and 2007–2008 the prevalence of obesity increased in adults at all income and education levels.
What Can We Do?
Efforts to combat obesity—primarily through prevention—are beginning to gain traction. Positive change must come to all parts of society: from governments and schools, businesses and non-profit organization, neighborhoods and communities, individuals and families. We need to change policies and create an environment where the default option is the healthy choice.
Evidence shows that obesity prevention policy and environmental change efforts should focus on facilitating a handful of key behaviors:
- Choosing healthier foods (whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and protein sources) and beverages (sugary drinks)
- Increasing physical activity
- Limiting television time, screen time, and other “sit time”
- Improving sleep
- Reducing stress
Obesity, with its links to so many chronic conditions, is a huge drain on individual as well as corporate health. It can sap productivity, worsen mobility and morale, and increase healthcare claims, sick days, and occupational injuries.
Workplace obesity prevention programs can be an effective way for employers to reduce obesity and lower healthcare costs, lower absenteeism and increase participant productivity.
It is suggested if the employer really means business about getting a healthier workplace, they need to offer incentives to promote healthy behaviors, such as participation in physical activity. Types of incentives include:
- Days off
- Employee recognition
- Medical plan enhancements, such as coverage for weight loss programs and lower co-pays and premiums.
- Offer incentives for using preventive services, such as BMI screenings or health risk assessments.
- Offer free or reduced price access to exercise clubs or gyms.
- Do not use weight status as the basis for incentives or penalties.
- Avoid stigmatizing overweight or obese employees.
Victory Home Health & Hospice plus Medical Equipment just offered a health screening to our employees. Victory had 50 participants, but of those 50, there was 80% that were overweight, obese, or extremely obese. Just think what the number would have been if everyone had participated! Now, we are doing a Biggest Loser Challenge within the workplace. However, we were only able to get 65 participants.
Victory will offer employee recognition, financial reward, and reduced rates to exercise clubs. We have already offered the preventive services with BMI screening and health risk assessment this year and will do it yearly.
Victory Home Health & Hospice plus Medical Equipment is doing our part in making our company a healthy workplace with higher morale, less injuries, and happier, healthier people.
Victory Home Health & Hospice plus Medical Equipment provides the highest quality services and the most innovative care possible. Call or come by any one of our 12 locations. Our friendly staff is ready to assist with any questions or concerns.