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  • Employer Health involvement Encourages Employee Weight Loss and Better Health

     Employers who offer their employees health coaching programs to assist in controlling chronic health conditions find that these programs are also an effective weight-management tool.

    In a study conducted by StayWell Health Management, a health promotion vendor, employee participants who completed a telephone-based health coaching program lost an average of 3 pounds, compared to 1 pound for those who did not complete the program.  Additionally, employees who followed the advice offered in the health coaching program were more likely to improve their overall eating habits and their physical activity levels.

    In the study, the company examined the benefits of long-term weight management versus short-term weight loss. The final study sample size included 1,298 participants from 10 different employers and focused on clients who offered programs between 2004 and 2006.

    Health experts believe that individuals who want to lose weight should focus on a lifetime goal of healthy eating and exercising and not on weight-loss challenges and programs aimed at dropping pounds over a short period.  Even a small amount of weight loss can contribute to an improvement in health, such as lower blood pressure and decrease in wear on knees and back.

    StayWell points to hardware store giant Lowe’s Home Improvement as an example of how a health coaching program can promote weight manangement.

    The company, which employs about 240,000 workers, rolled out a health coaching program that offered phone-based, mail-based coaching or a six-week interactive program to help workers identify and change unhealthy behaviors.  A total of 3,461 pounds was lost by participants with an average weight loss of 9.25 pounds per person; and the average body mass index among all participants decreased from 35.3 kg/m2 at pre-assessment to 33.9 kg/m2 at post-assessment; a decrease of 3.9%.

    The recent Health Care Reform legislation offers a financial incentive of 30-50% off premium costs to employees for participation in approved wellness programs beginning in 2014.

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