Impact Of Childhood Obesity On Employers

Human Resources, Integrated Health Services, IBM Corporation, Somers, New York, USA.
Health Affairs (Impact Factor: 4.97). 03/2010; 29(3):513-21. DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0737
Source: PubMed


The impact of childhood obesity on the workplace is not well understood. A study conducted for one large employer indicated that average per capita health insurance claims costs were as high as $2,907 in 2008 for an obese child and $10,789 for a child with type II diabetes. The average claims cost for children with type II diabetes actually exceeded the level of the average claims cost for adults with type II diabetes ($8,844). This paper reviews the evidence on the impact of childhood obesity on employers and discusses opportunities for business engagement-including two current examples of activities involving employers.

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Available from: Dee Edington, Jun 05, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: This observational study was undertaken to assess whether changes in healthy weight behaviors could be advanced in a short-term intervention involving parents and children at IBM. IBM's Children's Health Rebate offered a cash incentive for parents to complete a 12-week program of self-selected activities in family food planning and meals, family physical activity, and sedentary time related to electronic entertainment ("screen time"). A preprogram/postprogram comparison of self-reported activities was used to assess behavior change. A total of 22,265 (52.3%) employees elected to participate, 11,631 (52.2%) of whom completed all program requirements and earned a $150 cash rebate. Families completing the program reported significant changes in levels of physical activity, amount of entertainment screen time, and proportion of healthy meals. For example, family physical activity >3 times per week increased by 17.1 percentage points (from 23.2% to 40.3%), eating healthy dinners ≥ 5 days/week increased by 11.8 percentage points (from 74.9% to 86.7%), and entertainment screen time <1 hour/day increased by 8.3 percentage points for children (from 22.4% to 30.7%) and by 6.1 percentage points for adults (from 18.1% to 24.2%). The results of this short-term observational study suggest that healthy weight behaviors in children, adolescents, and parents can be improved by using a Web-based intervention linked with a cash incentive. The results also show that employers can activate parents and support a role for employers in community-based strategies for obesity prevention in children. Experimental designs with biometric data would strengthen the suggestion of positive impact.
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