There has been a lot in the press lately about the cost that companies have to pay out for unhealthy people-and by this I mean those who are obese or who smoke or don’t eat well.
Some companies are taking radical measures to push their employees to live a more healthy lifestyle. In fact, Clarian health Partners rewards employees for getting healthy but in 2009 will begin charging employees who fail to produce healthier lifestyles (read more here). If you smoke, you’ll pay $5. Too high of a body mass index? Cut a check for $10.
Obviously this measure is going to produce a lot of angry employees, if not a lawsuit or two. The question people are asking: Is it fair for our employer to penalize us for not living a more healthy lifestyle? Though I’m a bit of a health nut, I have to say no.
But on the other side of the coin, this morning as I swam I considered the fact that some companies do nothing to promote a healthier lifestyle. And face it, if you spend nine hours a day on the job, you are spending the majority of your waking time at work. Where else would you best benefit from learning about a healthier lifestyle?
I don’t know about you, but I’m nearing 40 and when I was a child, junk food was all the rage. My mom didn’t know about the ill effects of too much sugar, and my husband’s parents poured Karob syrup over everything from muffins to spam. We drank Kool Aid (what’s that comprised of, 99% sugar and 1% pure H20?!) on a daily basis. Water? That’s what we bathed in.
While the benefits of exercising and healthier living have been in the news in the past few years, for a long time they weren’t. People loaded up on what they wanted, disregarded exercise and lived a more sedentary lifestyle.
I guess that has caught up with us, since nearly half of the population is considered overweight. And while companies are not responsible for this-we do decide what goes in our mouth and how much physical activity we get when we are off the job-it would certainly be a great benefit for employers to offer some perks as a way to get us back into shape-or to teach us how to get in shape and eat more healthy.
For the next few days I’ll be posting about companies who are doing such things. I’ll also be looking at what else could be done to help employees who really aren’t sure how to go about creating a more healthy lifestyle.
And what about those who already exercise? Well, I can tell you that even though I am in the midst of training for a marathon I honestly have no idea how many calories I should be taking in or what types of food would be best for me to eat right now.
This is what I thought about today as I swam. If I worked for a company that provided some type of health and wellness program-even in the form of a trainer or nutritionist-I would be much more apt to contact someone and get some help than if I worked for a company who did not.
And I am sure that there are many people out there who just don’t know how to go about changing their diets and lifestyles so that they can live a healthier life.