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Improving Engagement in Employer-Sponsored Weight Management Programs
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Improving Engagement in Employer-Sponsored Weight Management Programs

Bruce W. Sherman, MD, and Carol Addy, MD, MMSc
The impact and value of employer-sponsored weight management programs can be enhanced by acknowledging and addressing individual well-being concerns as more immediate personal priorities.

As with patient–provider interactions in the clinical space, employers may want to consider reframing their weight management efforts in the context of a broader and longer-term well-being strategy. For example, biometric data may highlight the opportunity for effective weight management initiatives at the population level. Cross-tabulation data may provide additional insight into population-level factors associated with high BMI and inform employer opportunities to address identified concerns. Further, aggregate health risk assessment or other employee survey data may reveal opportunities for organization-level changes regarding workplace policies, practices, or other sources of stress that may serve as barriers to employee engagement in health-related offerings, including weight management programs. Instead of amalgamating a series of “quick fix” tactics into an ineffective “solution,” employers may be wise to establish a broader framework that highlights an overarching and long-term commitment to workforce well-being and that seeks to identify and address the barriers to achieving this objective.

There is a substantial gap in the current employer approach to weight management that overlooks nonclinical “symptoms” related to well-being issues, many of which are not physical health concerns. A growing research literature base offers support for incorporating well-being considerations as a means to improve the effectiveness of individual engagement in existing health management efforts, including weight management. Accordingly, employers, plan sponsors, or other entities with weight management programs may want to ensure that resources are available to effectively address personal well-being priorities more broadly rather than limiting focus to physical health concerns. By so doing, they may clear the path for greater individual engagement in available weight management offerings, and realize greater value from their investments in these programs.

 Author Affiliations: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (BWS), Cleveland, OH; Employers Health Coalition (BWS), Shaker Heights, OH; HMR Weight Management Services Corporation (CA), Boston, MA.

Source of Funding: None.

Author Disclosures: Dr Sherman has been a consultant for Takeda, Sanofi, and Celgene; he is also employed as the medical director of Buck Consultants at Xerox. He has received lecture fees for speaking at the invitation of a commercial sponsor, including Merck and Abbvie, and has attended meetings held by Integrated Benefits Institute, HERO Health, National Business Group on Health, National Business Coalition on Health, and World Congress. Dr Addy is employed by HMR Weight Management Services Corporation, a subsidiary of Merck & Co, Inc.

Authorship Information: Concept and design (BWS, CA); drafting of the manuscript (BWS, CA); critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content (BWS, CA); administrative, technical, or logistic support (BWS).

Send correspondence to: Bruce W. Sherman, MD, Employers Health Coalition, 3175 Belvoir Blvd, Shaker Heights, OH 44122. E-mail:

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