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Obesity in America A Growing Epidemic Workplace Strategies and Solutions. Janine V. Kyrillos, MD Director, Preventive Health Care Program Medical Coordinator, Weight Management Program Thomas Jefferson University 215-955-6180 janine.kyrillos@jefferson.edu

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Obesity in America A Growing Epidemic Workplace Strategies and Solutions

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Obesity in america a growing epidemic workplace strategies and solutions l.jpg

Obesity in AmericaA Growing EpidemicWorkplace Strategies and Solutions

Janine V. Kyrillos, MD

Director, Preventive Health Care Program

Medical Coordinator, Weight Management Program

Thomas Jefferson University



Sponsored by Health Advocate, Inc.

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  • 1/3 of U.S. population is obese

  • 2/3 of U.S. population is overweight or obese

  • 74% Increase over 10 year period

  • Costs U.S. companies $13 billion/year

  • Employers have important roles in addressing this epidemic

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  • Obesity: scope of problem

  • Contribution to rising healthcare costs

  • What is obesity?

  • Role in chronic disease, disability

  • Workplace strategies and trends

  • Questions/discussion

  • Websites/resources

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Obesity on the Map

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Obesity Has a Hefty Price Tag

  • ~$117 billion in 2000 ($61 billion direct and $56 billion indirect)

  • 6-10% of U.S. health care spending

  • Health costs >30% higher than normal weight individuals

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More on the Bottom Line

  • Costs companies >$13 billion annually

  • More than twice as many sick days

  • Disability, workers compensation

  • Self esteem, emotional factors affect productivity

  • Costs of accommodations, chairs, keyboards

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Definitions of Obesity

*risk of other clinical problems increased

Calculate your own BMI: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

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Apples and Pears

Waist circumference is tied to cardiovascular risk

Tipping Point:

Men: >40 inches

Women: >35 inches

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Coronary artery disease

Peripheral artery disease





Obstructive sleep apnea

Pulmonary disease



Pregnancy complications

Gallbladder disease


Skin infections

Urinary incontinence


Eating disorders

Social stigma

Cancers: breast, endometrial, colon, prostate, gallbladder, kidney, esophagus…

Increase in all causes mortality

Obesity Major Player in Many Diseases

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Natural Selection?

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Helping Shift the Balance of Energy

  • Lifestyle modification

    • Mindful eating

    • Exercise

    • Healthy self-talk

    • Diets

  • Medication

  • Surgery

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An Informed Approach

  • Recognize as chronic disease

  • Responsibility exists at many levels

  • Prevention as individual and society

  • Can make impact in workplace

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Why Workplace Solutions?

  • Workplace can be part of the problem

  • Employees willing to pay for it

  • An ideal opportunity for social reinforcement

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Workplace Solutions:A Range of Options

  • Education

  • Community resources

  • Getting involved

  • Inexpensive approaches

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Education Strategies:A Simple Way to Start

  • Employee newsletter

  • Informational e-mails

  • Bulletin boards

  • Include:

    • Calories burned from common activities

    • Mindful eating tips

    • Local walking/bike trails

    • Upcoming fitness activities/events

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Small Changes Each Day Add Up…

  • Diet over regular soda, 1 can.......15 pounds/year

  • 1 Candy bar/day...........................26 pounds/year

  • Skim milk over whole, 1cup..........7 pounds/year

  • 1Tbs mustard instead of mayo.......9 pounds/year

  • 2 Scoops ice cream/day................33 pounds/year

  • Apple juice, 8oz cup.....................12 pounds/year

  • Orange juice, 8oz cup...................10 pounds/year

  • 2 Beers/day....................................31 pounds/year

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Workplace InvolvementPays Off

  • Scheduling physical breaks during the day

  • Onsite wellness centers, exercise/walking trails

  • Stress management programs

  • Encourage walking/biking to/from work and during breaks

  • Memberships or discounts to health clubs

  • Walking clubs, weight loss competitions

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Inexpensive Approaches for Better Nutrition

  • Offering healthier food choices at reasonable prices

  • Provide nutritional info in cafeteria

  • Provide healthier snacks at meetings and other employee events

  • Provide bottled water and healthier items in vending machines

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Create a Healthy Work Environment

  • Encourage employees to use stairways

  • Discourage employees from eating at their desks

  • Support physical activity breaks during the workday

  • Offer alternative work schedules

  • Have a weekly casual day

  • Provide enough time for lunch so employees can walk or use the gym and don’t eat in a rush

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Additional Strategies

  • Wellness programs with onsite or online wellness coaches are effective

  • Incentives

  • Ongoing reminders through newsletters, posters, speakers

  • Weight management support groups

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Partner with Community Resources

  • Local speakers or personal trainers

  • Walk-a-thons, bike-a-thons

  • Health fairs

  • Onsite employee meetings with Overeaters Anonymous or Weight Watchers

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Real Experiences

  • CDC

  • Highmark Inc.

  • North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

  • http://www.eatsmartmovemorenc.com/

  • NEAT!

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Change Is Not Instantaneous

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  • Centers for Disease Control


  • The Center for Mindful Eating


  • USDA Food Pyramid


  • Weight-Control Information Network


  • Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity


  • Other sites:



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Order your FREE Obesity White Paper

and Checklist for Workplace Strategies

Call: 1-866-385-8033, prompt 2 (toll-free)


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