Worksite Weight Management Programs Boost Employee Quality of Life

Participation in weight management programs at work may reduce health care costs and improve participant quality of life, according to a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).
Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, analyzed the effectiveness of a weight management program for 1,500 University of Minnesota employees over three years.  The study tracked weight management participant health care expenditures and found an annual savings of $838 per participant including employees, spouses, and dependents, and $876 for employee participants only.  Participants also had a significant improvement in health-related quality of life (a difference of 0.0045 on a scale of 0 to 1.0000).  This benefit was present even where participants did not lose weight.  Researchers explained this outcome by noting that participants’ overall perception about health might have improved even where they experienced no significant weight loss.
On a whole, the weight management program generated total savings of about $3.7 million—up to $4.65 million when the value of added "quality-adjusted life-years" was included – over three years.  Direct costs for the program were about $164,000 per year.
"Benefits of a workplace weight management program may go beyond monetary values, as evidenced by an improvement of employees' health-related quality of life," study authors wrote. They suggest considering measurements beyond weight loss—such as employee engagement levels or productivity—when evaluating the outcomes of wellness programs.  Source:  American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine