For some time now, employers have been urged to pay for workplace wellness programs, with the promise that these programs will reduce health insurance costs and improve the health (and therefore the productivity) of employees.
Often these wellness programs are thinly disguised (or not disguised at all) diet / exercise programs with the sole goal of weight loss, because everyone knows that fat equals unhealthy.
Never mind that what “everyone knows” is simply not true.
Fat people are unhealthy and fat people are healthy.
Just like thin people are unhealthy and thin people are healthy.
Get it? Some people are unhealthy and some people are healthy.
It’s a people thing. NOT a fat thing.
Well, a two year, randomized study concludes that the workplace wellness program did not significantly affect clinical outcomes.
Clinical outcomes means, real-life outcomes like biometrics, medical diagnoses or medical use compared to the control group.
What the workplace wellness program did achieve was an increase in participants reporting having a primary care physician, and changed “health beliefs”.
The intervention significantly improved a set of employee health beliefs on average: participant beliefs about their chance of having a body mass index greater than 30, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and impaired glucose level jointly decreased by 0.07 SDs (95% CI, −0.12 to −0.01 SDs; P = .02); however, effects on individual belief measures were not significant.
Honestly, I don’t know WTF this means; and the full text is behind a pay wall – love y’all, but not spending the $$$ to find out.
My bet is “health beliefs” amounted to making people believe fat equals unhealthy and therefore, weight loss equals better health. But that is just my guess. I could be totally wrong. I don’t think so, but it could happen.
I found it interesting too, that one of the comments to this study (from Al Lewis, JD) says that this is the 12th consecutive study to find no impact.
So how do these wellness program peddlers stay in business?
They stay in business because we live in a society that demonizes and vilifies fat people.
These programs perpetuate all the myths and stereotypes about fat people, and by doing so, not only waste the employer’s money and the employees’ time, they perpetuate employment discrimination against fat people – people who already are less likely to be hired and more likely to be underpaid and underemployed.
If you work for a company that has or wants to put in place a wellness program – you might want to point the powers-that-be to this study and tell them to save their money.
If your employers want to do something nice for their employees? Offer no-strings attached gym memberships or exercise spaces and opportunities. Something employees can actually enjoy rather than be forced into.