Obesity Issues
The Obesity Society: Workplaces Offer Great Opportunities, Advantages for Employee Health & Wellness
Jun 5, 2014 - 11:11:16 AM

( - SILVER SPRING, Md., June 5, 2014 --Recognizing the benefits of workplace wellness programs for health, today the Obesity Society (TOS) announces its support for and participation in the sixth annual National Employee Wellness Month (NEWM). This yearly initiative highlights the importance of healthy practices in the workplace to engender a healthy, happy and engaged workforce. TOS joins more than 200 other leading U.S. organizations as a supporter of the Month and is taking action to implement its own workplace wellness program, as well as offering advice to companies seeking to join the effort.

"We recognize the importance of practicing healthy habits in all areas of life - from the home to the workplace - and are proud to be a part of this important initiative," says Francesca Dea, Executive Director at TOS. "Practicing healthy habits throughout the day, like monitoring overall caloric intake and increasing physical activity, can improve and sustain health and weight. This month we're emphasizing the importance of putting this into practice, and we're working to create a company culture that encourages employees to take steps to stay active and well."

During the month of June, TOS and other NEWM partner organizations are actively promoting healthy workplaces and educating employees on the benefits of long-term healthy habits. In addition to improving productivity and engagement, workplace wellness can help with the prevention and treatment of obesity and overweight.[i] Research shows that the workplace offers important opportunities to engage people in positive way.[ii]

In honor of this initiative, TOS is bringing back some of the health and wellness challenges it implemented during last year's National Employee Wellness Month.

"Weekly walks and a pedometer challenge were especially popular with TOS staff last year, and will be employed again," says Dea. "We're also exploring options for free yoga classes in the office, the installation of treadmill desks, and a fresh fruit program for staff. The hope is that these activities will help TOS staff recognize how easy and fun it can be to practice healthy habits throughout the workday."

TOS also offers advice for companies looking to implement their own programs and encourages them to focus on incentives for participation, rather than penalties. Unfortunately, according to a study presented by TOS member Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, of ConscienHealth and Joe Nadglowski of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) at last year's ObesityWeek? conference, wellness programs are commonly setting weight goals for employees, but most often they are paired with employer health plans denying coverage for evidence-based obesity treatment. Further, in a TOS position statement released in 2013, TOS members evaluate the research in the area and make recommendations for employers when developing these programs, including:

1. Structuring programs to reward employees for engaging in healthy habits;
2. Avoiding the use of BMI as a basis for financial penalties or incentives;
3. Ensuring incentive programs are matched with health plans that cover
evidence-based obesity treatment programs and medications;
4. Focusing programs on overall wellness for all employees, rather than only
those affected by obesity or overweight, and;
5. Creating a supportive workplace environment that provides opportunities
for healthy behaviors, such as healthy food options in the cafeteria and
vending machines.
"Tackling obesity in the workplace requires a holistic approach with a focus on supporting employees in their health journey," says Kyle. "Getting it right means workplaces that are encouraging healthy activities, employee cafeterias with healthy options, leaders who model healthy behavior, and health plans that cover a wide range of treatments for obesity and overweight."

National Employee Wellness Month is sponsored by Virgin Pulse in partnership with the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and WorldatWork. Find more information and resources about workplace wellness at, and join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #NEWM2014.

About The Obesity Society
The Obesity Society (TOS) is the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing and treating obesity. Through research, education and advocacy, TOS is committed to improving the lives of those affected by the disease. For more information visit:

[i] Task Force on Community Preventive Services. A recommendation to improve employee weight status through worksite health promotion programs targeting nutrition, physical activity, or both. Am J Prev Med. 2009;37:358-9.

[ii] WHO/WEF. The workplace as a setting for interventions to improve diet and promote physical activity. 2007.

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