Employers tended to design physical wellness programs around exercise. They offer discounted gym memberships, steps programs and other fitness-focused activities with the goal of helping employees lose weight, achieve better health, and lower their employer healthcare costs.
It hasn’t worked.
Despite encouraging employees to exercise more, the results have been dismal. Research shows that obesity levels are higher than ever, and 60% of Americans have at least one chronic disease.
The problem? Most wellness programs fail to emphasize healthy eating.While exercise is important, and contributes to cardiovascular health, higher bone density and lower stress, exercise alone can’t offset the effects of a bad diet in losing weight or minimizing the risk of chronic illness, both of which lead to poor health and higher employer healthcare costs. Accordingly, employers should double down on healthy eating, helping employees eat better both on and off the job. This should become their top priority to boost employee physical well-being, and in turn lower their healthcare costs and boost employee productivity.
Healthy eating, when done consistently and over the long term, can help employees lose weight, even with minimal exercise. It can also become a catalyst that makes people more likely to exercise and live healthy lifestyles.