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Slim Down Your Expenses by Helping Your Employees Stay Fit

One of the largest contributors to poor health and premature death is obesity. Simply put, obesity is an excessive amount of body fat that leads to an increased risk for many chronic health conditions. The good news is that most overweight people want to increase their fitness and there are effective ways that caring employers can support employees in achieving that goal.

Man in a suit getting off of his bicycle.

The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links extra pounds to an increased risk of many serious health conditions, including:

• High blood pressure • High cholesterol • Diabetes • Heart disease
• Gallbladder disease • Stroke • Sleep apnea • Osteoarthritis
• At least 13 types of cancer • Body pain • Mental illness

The percentage of overweight people is growing at an alarming pace, both in the U.S. and worldwide. According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased from 30.5% to 41.9% in just the past 20 years. Today, more than a quarter of Americans ages 17 to 24 are too heavy for military service.

Our society and economy pay a heavy price for these extra pounds. A recent study estimates that being overweight accounts for $173 billion in excess annual medical costs. In addition, the Harvard School of Public Health notes there are many more indirect costs associated with overweight employees compared to their slimmer colleagues, including:

  • Lower productivity.
  • More absenteeism.
  • Higher life insurance premiums.
  • Increased workers' compensation claims.

Your company's medical and operational budget may be straining under the weight of this public health crisis.

The demand for weight-loss help is growing

Most overweight people know they will look and feel healthier if they shed some pounds. A recent Gallup survey shows that 41% of Americans self-report that they are overweight and about 55% report wanting to lose weight. Women are much more likely than men to express that desire.

This has led to a growing demand for weight-loss programs. In 2019, the weight-loss industry was valued at $192 billion. That valuation is projected to top $295 billion by 2027.

Since many of your employees spend a significant portion of their day at work, it makes sense that adopting healthier habits in the workplace can make a difference. Today, most companies recognize the value of helping their employees do just that. In 2019, 88% of companies with 200 or more employees offered a workplace wellness program.

What can employers do to help their employees get fit?

You don't need a fat bank account to help your employees live a healthier life. Get creative. Even small companies with tight budgets can organize healthy work events with minimal expense and time commitment. You may find that the following suggestions also boost your company's morale:

  • Provide healthier food choices in vending machines, cafeterias, and during catered meetings and events.
  • Share simple and healthy recipes in your employee newsletter.
  • Hold walking meetings.
  • Subsidize memberships to local gyms or fitness centers.
  • Provide secure parking locations for bicycles.
  • Offer a wellness program that educates employees about the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices and incentivizes fitness activities.
  • Organize "green lunches." Employees sign up to bring ingredients for a salad bar and enjoy the meal together.
  • Reward employees who walk or work out on their lunch hours with dress-down Fridays, a slightly longer lunch hour, or points that can be collected and redeemed for a gift card.
  • Sponsor on-site weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers.
  • Provide standing desks.
  • Provide shower or locker room facilities.

Encourage your employees to live a healthy life with Allstate Benefits

Offering quality health benefits makes a big difference. Health providers can offer resources such as nutrition counseling and exercise programs that will help your employees in their quest to lose weight.

The Vitality wellness program, which can be added to your self-funded plan, educates your employees about health topics and encourages participation in healthy activities. It encourages healthy habits that can have a permanent impact on your employees' lives. In fact, 90% of members say Vitality has made them more aware of their health. In addition, members who are highly engaged in the Vitality program reduce their claims by up to 19%.

Call your Allstate Benefits – Group Health sales consultant to learn more about how our health, dental and wellness options can help reduce your benefits costs and keep your employees healthier.

The Self-Funded Program through Allstate Benefits provides tools for employers owning small to mid-sized businesses to establish a self-funded health benefit plan for their employees. The benefit plan is established by the employer and is not an insurance product. Allstate Benefits is a marketing name for: Integon National Insurance Company in CT, NY and VT; Integon Indemnity Corporation in FL; and National Health Insurance Company in CO, WA and all other states where offered. For employers in the Allstate Benefits Self-Funded Program, stop loss insurance is underwritten by these insurance companies in the noted states.

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