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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 [email protected]

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Obesity in America A Growing Epidemic Workplace Strategies and Solutions

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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


[email protected]

Sponsored by Health Advocate, Inc.


  • 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


  • 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

Obesity on the Map

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

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

Definitions of Obesity

*risk of other clinical problems increased

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

Apples and Pears

Waist circumference is tied to cardiovascular risk

Tipping Point:

Men: >40 inches

Women: >35 inches


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

Natural Selection?


Helping Shift the Balance of Energy

  • Lifestyle modification

    • Mindful eating

    • Exercise

    • Healthy self-talk

    • Diets

  • Medication

  • Surgery

An Informed Approach

  • Recognize as chronic disease

  • Responsibility exists at many levels

  • Prevention as individual and society

  • Can make impact in workplace

Why Workplace Solutions?

  • Workplace can be part of the problem

  • Employees willing to pay for it

  • An ideal opportunity for social reinforcement

Workplace Solutions:A Range of Options

  • Education

  • Community resources

  • Getting involved

  • Inexpensive approaches

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Strategies

  • Wellness programs with onsite or online wellness coaches are effective

  • Incentives

  • Ongoing reminders through newsletters, posters, speakers

  • Weight management support groups

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

Real Experiences

  • CDC

  • Highmark Inc.

  • North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

  • http://www.eatsmartmovemorenc.com/

  • NEAT!


Change Is Not Instantaneous



  • 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:



Order your FREE Obesity White Paper

and Checklist for Workplace Strategies

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

Email:[email protected]

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