U.S. to test workplace wellness programs

Sept. 30, 2011 at 6:57 PM
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ATLANTA, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. government is spending approximately $9 million to measure the effectiveness of comprehensive workplace wellness programs, officials say.

The initiative, funded by the Affordable Care Act, aims to help workplaces support healthy lifestyles and reduce risk factors for chronic diseases to improve the health of workers and their families.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said research shows workplace wellness programs can be highly effective in promoting healthy behaviors, while comprehensive evidence-based work site health programs can generate significant cost savings -- yielding on average a $3 return on every $1 spent during a two- to five-year period.

"Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other long-term health problems increase health care costs and decrease productivity, eroding the bottom line of American businesses," Frieden said in a statement. "This new initiative will help companies of all sizes implement strategies to improve employee health, which will help contain health costs for employers and make for a healthier, more productive American workforce."

Viridian Health Management in Phoenix was selected to work with 70 to 100 small, mid-size, and large employers in seven regions nationwide to help them develop or expand their workplace wellness programs involving promoting physical activity, proper nutrition and tobacco cessation -- the key lifestyle behaviors that reduce employees' risk for chronic disease, officials said.

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