Archived Story

A win/win for the new year

Published 7:17pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

In 2012, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina got a bit proactive with preventative health when company officials noticed a direct relationship between employees’ weight and health metrics (measurement of health): as weight goes up, overall health dips downward.
So the company issued a challenge to BCBSNC employees — the “5 Ton Challenge” — encouraging 4,000 employees to lose a combined 10,000 pounds. The employees of BCBSNC exceeded the goal in only nine months.
According to BCBSNC, employees with a body-mass index of more than 28 had health-care costs almost $3,000 higher per year than their fitter counterparts.
And the company made it easier for its employees to make healthful choices: reduced price Weight Watchers memberships, the flexibility to exercise during work hours and educational events like cooking and nutrition classes. Employees who achieved a BMI of less than 28 or lost 5 percent of their body weight in 2012 were eligible to get a credit for 2013 health-care premiums.
“I’ve always wanted to play basketball with my daughter instead of just watching her, but I lacked the motivation and stamina to get active and lose weight,” said Tanisha Wilder, BCBSNC employee and one of the big winners (or losers, as the case may be). “I lost a quarter of my body weight during the 5 Ton Challenge. Now I can get involved in all my family activities, whether it’s basketball or game night. I’ve never felt better or had more fun!”
In a few days, the new year begins. Local employers might want to think about taking a page from BCBSNC and issuing their own challenges, ones that will likely lead to an ultimately healthier work force. Losing weight is a fine 2013 resolution, but a focus on getting healthier, rather than getting thinner. Feeling better and being able to join in the fun benefits everyone in your life.

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