Obesity is such a problem in America that some companies are now getting more involved in their employees’ health and encouraging them to lose weight.
When L.L. Bean realised that 85% of the employees at its Bangor, Maine, call center were overweight or obese, the company launched a pilot program to provide 24 employees with exercise classes, nutrition coaching, and emotional counseling during work hours for one year, the Wall Street Journal reports.
It worked — the employees lost an average of 15 pounds, and the company saw similar results for shorter programs they launched in other locations.
It makes sense for some companies to do this considering that overweight and obese employees can end up costing companies money in terms of healthcare expenses.
One of the most effective ways for companies to bring down healthcare costs is to eliminate preventable sources of disease, and obesity can lead to heart problems and stroke. The Journal notes that getting employees to slim down could save employers an average of 9% in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove has said that obesity accounts for 10% of all healthcare costs. That figure will likely rise to 20% over the next decade.
Besides sponsoring weight-loss programs and fitness competitions, some companies are also now paying for weight-loss surgeries and wearable fitness trackers.
Most American adults are overweight or obese, according to the National Institutes of Health:
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