WBGH Studies Obesity’s Impact On Corporate America
Washington Business Group on Health (WBGH) has launched the Institute
on the Costs and Health Effects of Obesity to help corporate America
reduce the impact of obesity and weight-related conditions in the
institute, which includes corporations and federal health agencies,
will explore the epidemic of obesity, propose solutions and strategies
and "serve as a catalyst for change," according to Helen Darling, WBGH
There is a
critical need to focus on the problem of weight-related issues and
establish a workplace wellness link, according to institute members.
a devastating impact on the health of employees and, by extension, on
their employers," said Dr. Vince Kerr, director of Health Care
Management at Ford Motor Company, one of the founding members of the
lose more than $12 billion per year due to higher healthcare
utilization rates, lowered productivity, increased absenteeism,
elevated health and disability insurance premiums and other
consequences associated with obesity and weight-related conditions," he
Structure And Strategy
is structured specifically for a corporate audience, Darling said. It
will serve as a resource for large employers on the health and cost
repercussions of obesity and related chronic conditions, and will
identify effective strategies, including workplace health promotion
efforts, to decrease the incidence of obesity among U.S. workers, she
the group will develop and disseminate "clear messages that stress
obesity’s preventable nature as well as its role in physical and
mental health," Darling noted.
shown that the overall impact of obesity on health and costs outweighs
even that of smoking," she said. "As a result, no company in America
can afford to ignore the problem of obese and overweight employees."
has released an "employer toolkit report" on weight management that
offers ways for corporations to support employees’ desires to
achieve healthier lifestyles, according to Darling.
institute projects and initiatives planned for the next two years
include a national weight awareness initiative; issue briefs; an online
resource center; and a corporate summit that will bring large employers
together to discuss obesity-related challenges and share effective
solutions and strategies.
institute provides a crucial forum for private and public organizations
to work together to develop innovative, proactive strategies for
addressing obesity and its implications," said Dr. William H. Dietz,
director of the division of nutrition and physical activity at the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
company or agency can solve the problem of obesity and its impact on
the workforce," he continued. "Instead, a collaborative approach that
combines research with strategic implementation is critical."
board comprised of key stakeholders interested in helping corporations
respond to the nation’s obesity epidemic oversees the institute,
include Fidelity Investments; Ford Motor Company; General Mills;
Honeywell; Morgan Stanley; PepsiCo; Quebecor World; Saks Incorporated;
Starwood Hotels; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; CDC;
the Institute of Medicine; the American Association of Health Plans;
Aetna; Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Group; and Whole Health Management,
according to the institute.
Playing A Role
every company in the United States can and should play a role in
combating the obesity epidemic," said Darling. "Even small, inexpensive
initiatives such as providing nutritional information in company
cafeterias or encouraging workers to take the stairs contribute to
Address: Washington Business Group on Health, 50 F St. NW, Suite 600, Washington DC 20001; (202) 628-9320, www.wbgh.org.
Copyright 2003 Health Resources Publishing