Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Do Weight Loss Wellness Programs work?

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Feb• 22•15

In short, ‘no’.  At least that is the conclusion reached by a recent AJMC paper that looks at the evidence available for employer-sponsored wellness programs.  The authors write:

American corporations continue to expand wellness programs, which now reach an estimated 90% of workers in large organizations, yet no study has demonstrated that the main focus of these programs—weight control—has any positive effect. There is no published evidence that large-scale corporate attempts to control employee body weight through financial incentives and penalties have generated savings from long-term weight loss, or a reduction in inpatient admissions associated with obesity or even long-term weight loss itself. Other evidence contradicts the hypothesis that population obesity rates meaningfully retard economic growth or manufacturing productivity. Quite the contrary, overscreening and crash dieting can impact employee morale and even harm employee health. Therefore, the authors believe that corporations should disband or significantly reconfigure weight-oriented wellness programs, and that the Affordable Care Act should be amended to require such programs to conform to accepted guidelines for harm avoidance.

HT: Incidental Economist.

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