Companies that implement weight-loss programs for their employees could save more than $300,000 from reduced healthcare costs and productivity improvements, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The study claims companies can gain a short-term return on investment of $1.17 per dollar spent by participating in an obesity management program called Healthyroads, which costs about $300 per employee, according to the report in the official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Researchers observed a group of 890 overweight or obese employees participating in Healthyroads who received coaching and other weight-loss support services, according to the study published in September. The participants' average age was 44, about 75% of whom were female, with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 30.6. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
Within a year, the participants reduced seven of 10 health risk factors, including poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. The average weight loss was 10 pounds with a BMI decrease of 0.9. "Employers could potentially achieve bigger savings in healthcare costs and productivity if the observed risk changes persisted beyond the study period," notes the report's authors.