How Employers Can Encourage Better Health Habits
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How Employers Can Encourage Better Health Habits

Recently the body mass index (BMI) has come under more criticism. One study looking at folks in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found, after checking on blood pressure and triglyceride, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance, and C-reactive protein levels, that nearly half of overweight individuals (BMI 25-29) and 29 percent of obese individuals (BMI 30-39) were actually metabolically healthy. And more than 30 percent of those considered healthy (BMI 19-24) were not.

The furor over the BMI is heating up because employers will use it -- along with measures such as cholesterol, glucose and tobacco use -- to determine employee healthcare contributions, if a rule proposed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is adopted. (You weigh more, you pay more.)  

Now our beef (or should we say lean protein) is not with the suggestion to use the sometimes unreliable BMI (developed in the 1830s!) along with state-of-the-art measures to promote health. In our experience the best way to help employees become healthy is to support them with company-based wellness programs, like those at Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic Wellness Center, that offer free programs and incentives for sustained improvements in health markers (you weigh less and you get your metabolic state in order, you pay less). To help folks get healthier, you need to create an environment in which everyone of every size can feel good about taking steps -- that’s 10,000 a day -- toward better health.