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Obesity Prevention and Control

Vegetable standOnce assessment and planning have been completed, including analysis of the collected data, the next step is implementing the strategies and interventions that will comprise the workplace health program. These intervention descriptions include the public health evidence-baseThe development, implementation, and evaluation of effective programs and policies in public health through application of principles of scientific reasoning, including systematic uses of data and information systems, and appropriate use of behavioral science theory and program planning models. for each intervention, details on designing interventions for maintaining a healthy weight, and links to examples and resources.

Before implementing any interventions, the evaluation plan should also be developed. Potential baseline, process, health outcomes, and organizational change measures for these programs are listed under evaluation of obesity prevention and control programs.

Obesity increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions including:

Overweight and obesity and their health effects are associated with substantial economic costs. In 2008, the estimated health care costs related to obesity were $147 billion1

The use of body mass index (BMI) is an approach to assessing whether a person is overweight or obese.  While BMI standards have some drawbacks, they are useful for quick assessment of employee’s excess body weight in the workplace and are often used in clinical care. 

  • The formula for BMI is weight in pounds (lbs) divided by height in inches (in) squared and multiplied by a conversion factor of 703  
  • Using standard definitions, a BMI of
    less than 18.5 is underweight
    18.5 to 24.9 is normal
    25.0 to 29.9 is overweight
    30.0 or higher is obese

Many obesity interventions are closely linked to physical activity and nutrition programs.  These intervention descriptions supplement the material found under those headings.

Tools and Resources

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website on Assessing Healthy Weight describe body mass index (BMI) and how to calculate it

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Health-related programs obesity prevention and control2-4

Use employee health surveys in the workplace
  • Employee health surveys should be combined with individualized assessment, counseling and follow up for health behavior change.  Options include individual-adapted behavior change programs and professional guidance and support for initiation of obesity prevention and control programs 

Tools and Resources

  • The CDC has developed the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator that allows people to calculate their BMI and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems

Use multifaceted employee education and participation programs

  • Interventions that combine physical activity and nutrition are effective in helping employees lose weight and keep it off in the short term. These interventions use combinations of activities and support, such as nutrition education classes, aerobic and strength training, training in goal setting and lifestyle skills, self-help materials or specific dietary plans, and group exercise sessions.  Research has found that these combinations resulted in an average weight loss of at least four pounds at 6 months or more after beginning the program
  • The health-related program strategies and interventions listed for physical activity and nutrition include lifestyle activities recommended to maintain a healthy weight

Tools and Resources

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Health-Related policies for obesity prevention and control  

Workplace policies promote a corporate “culture of good healthThe creation of a working environment where employee health and safety is valued, supported and promoted through workplace health programs, policies, benefits, and environmental supports. Building a Culture of Health involves all levels of the organization and establishes the workplace health program as a routine part of business operations aligned with overall business goals. The results of this culture change include engaged and empowered employees, an impact on health care costs, and improved worker productivity..”

Worksite lifestyle programs can help employees manage their weight
  • The health-related policy strategies and interventions listed for physical activity and nutrition include lifestyle activities recommended to maintain healthy weight

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Health benefits for obesity prevention and control5-7

Employee health benefits are part of an overall compensation package and affect an employee’s willingness to seek preventive services and clinical care.

Enhance benefit coverage for obesity clinical screening, counseling, and treatment
  • The U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that clinicians screen all adult patients for obesity and offer intensive counseling and behavioral interventions to promote sustained weight loss for obese adults.
  • In addition the U.S Food and Drug Administration has approved certain medications for the treatment of obesity
  • The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health recommends that surgery is an option for carefully selected obese patients with a BMI greater than 40 or a BMI between 35 and 39.9 who also have at least one obesity-related illness when other less invasive methods of weight loss have failed

Tools and Resources

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Environmental support for obesity prevention and control

Environmental support provides a worksite physically designed to encourage good health.

Worksite environmental support activities for lifestyle change can be used to promote weight management
  • The health-related environmental support strategies and interventions listed for physical activity and nutrition include lifestyle activities recommended to maintain a healthy weight

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Contact Us:
  • Division of Population Health/Workplace Health Promotion
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    4770 Buford Highway, Northeast, Mailstop K-45
    Atlanta, GA 30341
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    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC-INFO The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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