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Ten Fattest States in America and Why It’s Affecting You

November 3, 2011

A few months ago Benefits Pro released information on the 10 Fattest Stats in America. With the holidays quickly approaching (yes, it is already November), now may be the perfect time to discuss how these statistics affect you. Not to mention our companies home state of Oklahoma made the list. http://www.benefitspro.com/2011/07/14/10-fattest-states-in-america
Top 10 Fattest States:

1. Mississippi
2. Alabama
3. West Virginia
4. Tennessee
5. Louisiana
6. Kentucky
7. Oklahoma
8. South Carolina
9. Arkansas
10. Michigan

Oklahoma touts a population of 3.7 million with 31.4% of adults being obese and 16.4 % of children being obese. This ranks the state 7th worst in adult obesity in the nation. According to an article written by Gov. Mary Fallon, obesity rates have grown faster in Oklahoma than in any other state in the nation over the last 15 years. (http://www.ok.gov/triton/modules/newsroom/newsroom_article.php?id=223&article_id=3421) “Preventable illnesses related to obesity and unhealthy behaviors are causing… an estimated $864 million in direct medical costs and lost productivity.”

Obesity isn’t just plaguing but companies as well. When companies offer health insurance to their employees, rates are based on the health of the group overall. If you have a healthy group of adults, your rates are typically lower than a group of comparable adults that are overweight. By helping your employees stay fit, not only are you decreasing their risk of disease and death but you could potentially lower your bottom line by spending less on insurance premiums.

Many employers are now encouraging employees to get fit through wellness programs, time off each day to visit the gym, or just encouraging employees to exercise on their lunch hour. Some employers feel that by giving extra time and encouraging wellness and physical activity, they will be able to lower the cost of benefits not only for themselves but for their employees as well. A Blue Sheild call center in California is taking working out at work to a whole new level – they have started a “Wellvolution”. The company has installed what they call “walking workstations”. Walking Workstations allow employees to walk on treadmills while working. Employees are allowed to sign up for 1 hour time slots, 2 days a week to utilize the stations during their work hours. Employees can sign into work stations attached to treadmills and answer e-mails, complete paperwork, make phone calls, or do any other task just as they would with the computer workstation at their desk.

While not all companies can afford to make such big changes as Blue Shield of California, many can take small steps to bettering the health of their workforce. Consider a smoking cessation program, team up with a local gym and offer discounted memberships to employees, encourage employees to walk on their lunch hour, or to pack a lunch instead of driving through a fast food restaurant.

Ultimately, the goal is to help your employees become healthier not just for your benefit but for theirs too!

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