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  • Employers Can Help Battle Chidlhood Obesity

    As childhood obesity in the United States has tripled over the past 30 years.  Obesity is a growing epidemic affecting children, their families and the nation. The United States currently has the highest percentage of overweight youth in its history. More than one-third of children in the United States are considered overweight or obese, leading to increased health risks, higher health care costs and decreased parental productivity at work., now is the time for employers to take the lead in the battle against the growing problem of overweight and obese children, according to the National Business Group on Health.

    “Child obesity is impacting employers today and will into the future as these children become the workforce of tomorrow,” says Helen Darling, president and CEO of NBGH, whose members include 329 large U.S. employers. “Parents have an enormous impact on the childhood obesity epidemic. The good news is that employers can play a critical role in fighting the childhood obesity epidemic by helping families develop healthy lifestyles at work and in the home”.

    A recent survey of 83 of the nation’s largest companies conducted by the National Business Group on Health identifies the following programs employers currenlty have in place to help fight childhood obesity:

    - One third of employers (33%) offer online weight management tools to children.

    - More than one in four employers (28%) offer telephonic or online coaching for weight management to children

    Beyond promoting healthy lifestyles in the home, employers will soon face a growing demand for obesity treatment in children.

    “With the new guidelines for screening under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many more children nationally will be identified as overweight or obese,” says LuAnn Heinen, vice president and director of NBGH’s Institute on Innovation in Workforce Well-being. “Employers can provide tools and resources to support and empower employees and work with health plans and community resources to develop and promote new approaches to childhood obesity prevention and treatment.”

    Employer toolkit expanded

    NBGH also announced that it has updated its employer toolkit, “Childhood Obesity:  It’s Everyone’s Business,” to include examples of family-focused wellness programs that four forward-thinking companies are doing to fight childhood obesity. The toolkit also includes a new section on how employers can design their benefit programs to ensure that they are in accordance with new screening guidelines required by PPACA and support obesitytreatment options for children.

    The employer toolkit was developed and updated with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau. It’s available free of charge and can be found at www.businessgrouphealth.org.

    Gary Whiddon is a wellness consultant affiliated with WELCOA university and can assist you in forming a wellness program for your employees.  Please contact him at (888) 474-6627 for information on setting up a prgram for your employees.


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