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Workplace weight loss programs lower health care costs, improve quality of life: study

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Omaha, NE – People who participate in a weight management program at work experience lower health care costs and better quality of life, according to a study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Researchers examined data on 1,500 University of Minnesota workers who attended group meetings about weight management over a three-year period. Participants typically were older women who had a higher body mass index and were more likely to have a chronic disease.

Results showed that workers who participated in the program had lower health care costs than non-participants. The average annual savings was $876 per participant, while participants, their spouses and dependents collectively saved $838 per year.

Participants – including those who did not lose weight – also experienced a “significant improvement” in health-related quality of life, the researchers concluded.

Annually, direct costs of the program were about $164,000. The program saved about $3.7 million over three years – and as much as $4.65 million when quality of life was taken into account.

The researchers recommend employers also consider wellness programs that can yield results other than weight loss, such as productivity or worker engagement. “Benefits of a workplace weight management program may go beyond monetary values, as evidenced by an improvement of employees’ health-related quality of life,” they wrote.

The study was published in the November issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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