Why Obesity Is Everyone’s Business

Little boy and his father cooking

It’s National Nutrition Month – a great reminder for employers to evaluate how they are helping their employees make healthier food choices. These choices can impact an organization’s bottom line. An unhealthy diet can increase the risk of obesity which can lead to heart disease, diabetes, joint replacements, and other problems while hurting employee productivity and increasing medical claims costs. One Yale University study, for example, estimated that the national loss in productivity from obesity-related absenteeism is $8.65 billion a year.  However, employers can play a key role in creating a culture of health to curb obesity.  Here’s how.




Another study revealed that while normal-weight employees cost an average of $3,838 per year in health care costs, overweight to morbidly obese employees cost between $4,252 and $8,067. (Each additional body mass index (BMI) point above normal weight costs $194 to $222 per year per employee.)


Creating a culture of health

Employers can play a key role in creating a culture of health to curb obesity. For example, they can :

  • Provide healthy food choices in cafeterias and vending machines.
  • Provide facilities that encourage healthy activity, such as onsite gyms, exercise classes and treadmill desks.
  • Promote healthy working conditions to prevent job stress, lack of breaks, nighttime work shifts, or overbooked schedules which can contribute to poor eating and not enough exercise.
  • Support employee involvement in wellness activities, such as exercise groups.
    Negotiate group discounts or subsidize wellness activities, such as gym memberships.
  • Encourage active commuting by installing locker rooms, showers and bike racks.
    Encourage management to lead by example by prioritizing and demonstrating their commitment to a healthy lifestyle.


Employers can also partner with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) vendor that provides a wellness program. MHN, Health Net, Inc.’s behavioral health subsidiary, offers a wellness program that is included with its standard EAP – not an optional extra. Backed by the expertise of Mayo Clinic, MHN’s integrated wellness services consist of personal wellness coaching (for weight management, nutrition, exercise, and more), health assessments and an interactive wellness portal with tools and trackers, videos, and online seminars.

To learn more, please visit www.mhn.com, call 1-800-327-7526 or email productinfo@mhn.com.


This article is for informational and self-help purposes only. It should not be treated as a substitute for financial, medical, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice, or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified professional.
Managed Health Network, Inc. (MHN) is a subsidiary of Health Net, Inc. The MHN family of companies includes Managed Health Network, MHN Services and MHN Government Services. Health Net and Managed Health Network are registered service marks of Health Net, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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Stacy Madden