Almost every U.S. business is looking for ways to reduce the cost of health insurance. Clearly, obesity is a significant driver of health care cost as it often leads to diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and worse. As a result, here at ESI, we’ve added lifestyle benefits like nutrition counseling, exercise programs, and on-line personal trainers to our employee assistance program. A recent study on long-term weight control conducted by Duke University Medical Center shows we might be on the right track.
In what is being billed as the largest and longest study of weight loss maintenance strategies, researchers at Duke found that personal contact and computer-based support systems were helpful in keeping weight off.
Dr. Laura Svetkey and researchers at four institutions around the country studied 1,685 overweight or obese adults who were being treated for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or both. They asked these individuals to make lifestyle changes like reducing calorie intake, increasing activity, and to follow a healthy diet with a goal of losing at least 9 pounds in 20 weeks. 61% of the participants achieved the goal.
Those that achieved the goal were then divided into three groups: as self directed group; a personal contact group where they received coaching and support from a counselor; or a computer based, weight loss maintenance program that offered the same counseling that personal contact offered, but in a virtual, interactive format.
The results are impressive; more than 70 percent weighed less at the end of the 30 month study. Those with personal contact were the most successful with 77% maintaining some weight loss. At a 69% success rate, the computer-intervention group was slightly more successful than the self-directed group at 67%.
EAP provides comprehensive wellness benefits
Your employee assistance program should include a full complement of wellness benefits. Here at ESI, we offer many tools to our members to help reduce the high personal and work costs that obesity can incur. There are on-line health risk appraisals, discount gym memberships, on-line personal trainers, nutrition counseling, and discounts with Jenny Craig. In addition, members can talk to counselors to help address any issue including their lifestyle.

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