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Employers Should Disband Employee Weight Control Programs
Alfred Lewis, JD; Vikram Khanna, MHS; and Shana Montrose, MPH
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Employers Should Disband Employee Weight Control Programs

Alfred Lewis, JD; Vikram Khanna, MHS; and Shana Montrose, MPH
No corporate weight control program has ever reported savings or even sustained weight loss using valid metrics across a sizable population for 2 years or more, accounting for dropouts and nonparticipants. Further, these programs can harm morale and even the health of the employees themselves.
ABSTRACT
American corporations continue to expand wellness programs, which now reach an estimated 90% of workers in large organizations, yet no study has demonstrated that the main focus of these programs—weight control—has any positive effect. There is no published evidence that large-scale corporate attempts to control employee body weight through financial incentives and penalties have generated savings from long-term weight loss, or a reduction in inpatient admissions associated with obesity or even long-term weight loss itself. Other evidence contradicts the hypothesis that population obesity rates meaningfully retard economic growth or manufacturing productivity. Quite the contrary, overscreening and crash dieting can impact employee morale and even harm employee health. Therefore, the authors believe that corporations should disband or significantly reconfigure weight-oriented wellness programs, and that the Affordable Care Act should be amended to require such programs to conform to accepted guidelines for harm avoidance.

Am J Manag Care. 2015;21(2):e91-e94
Corporate weight control programs are ineffective at reducing weight; in addition, the nexus between weight loss and savings/productivity improvement is weak. Especially given the costs and potential harms of these programs, the authors recommend phasing them out altogether and reallocating resources towards creating a healthier work environment for everyone.

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Author Affiliations: Disease Management Purchasing Consortium (AL), Waltham, MA; Vikram Khanna Health Consulting (VK), Chesterfield, MO; Independent consultant (SM).

Source of Funding: None.

Author Disclosures: Mr Lewis and Khanna report no relationship or financial interest with any entity that would pose a conflict of interest with the subject matter of this article. Ms Montrose completed this research in 2014 as an independent consultant.

Authorship Information: Concept and design (VK, AL); acquisition of data (AL, SM); analysis and interpretation of data (VK, AL, SM); drafting of the manuscript (VK, AL); critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content (AL, SM); statistical analysis (AL); administrative, technical, or logistic support (VK); and supervision (AL).

Address correspondence to: Alfred Lewis, JD, Disease Management Purchasing Consortium, 890 Winter St, Waltham, MA 02451. E-mail: diseasmgmt@aol.com.
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