Recently I was thinking about an article I read in my hometown paper about how the American Medical Association (AMA) wants to take a more active role in the public school fight against childhood obesity and diabetes. The AMA is supporting legislation that would require schools to offer a curriculum that would teach the causes, consequences and prevention of obesity in grades 1 through 12. The organization is also encouraging local doctors to volunteer their time to support the class curriculum. Additionally, the group advocates for environmental and programmatic changes to provide more access to walking and bike trails, recess, healthy snack initiatives, and more. The AMA believes that in order to be successful, a collective, multi-pronged, and systemic approach is necessary.
The information out there about diabetes and obesity is staggering, and these conditions are major public health concerns for everyone. It’s been noted that children who are obese are more than likely going to be obese as adults unless there are interventions to help support and sustain behavior changes. What really concerns me is that those obese adults will make up a portion of our workforce. This means that productivity will go down while healthcare costs will go up. Rather than standing by and watching waistlines inch up along with costs, employers must step in and support a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable.
Employers who understand that they should take a significant interest in promoting a culture of health know that it takes more than providing healthy snacks and implementing walking programs to make behavior change stick—although that’s a start. Here at Ovation, we’re doing our part by working diligently with our clients and collaborative partners to leverage the health plan to incentivize behavior change. We do this by developing healthy policies and designing programs and interventions that are tied to the benefit plan design as an incentive. This creates a positive environment in which employees are motivated to embrace a healthy lifestyle.
Since most employees spend the majority of their day at work, companies are smart to develop supportive programs on the worksite to emphasize a culture of health. Our hope is that employees will bring those newly learned behaviors into their homes as well.
It’s very rewarding to take part in a concerted effort aimed at giving people opportunities to make their lives better. The AMA says it takes a village to stem the tide of obesity and diabetes. What are you doing to contribute, either at home or in the workplace? What can you do to help shape a healthier culture for you and those around you?