Work site wellness centers equate to weight loss and health care savings, expert says

March 25, 2015, Mayo Clinic

As employees and employers face higher health care costs, work site wellness are becoming increasingly more important to help control the costs of health care and encourage healthy lifestyle behaviors among the workforce, a Mayo Clinic study says.

Research published this month in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows that members of Mayo Clinic's employee wellness center, the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center (DAHLC), who regularly participated in wellness activities, experienced significant weight loss and savings.

"A well-planned comprehensive wellness center can engage and retain members which can ultimately lead to important savings in health care costs and reductions in body mass index (BMI)," says lead researcher Bijan Borah, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

For the study, the researchers used data from 3,199 members who were continuously enrolled in the DAHLC for three years and their attendance was categorized: 1-60, 61-180, 181-360 and greater than 360 visits. Weight loss was defined as moving to a lower BMI category and was based on their BMI at the beginning of the study: normal (BMI <25), overweight (BMI ?25 to <30), obese (BMI ?30 to <35), and obesity grade II or higher (BMI ?35). The baseline patient information was collected in the first year and study outcomes were assessed during the three-year follow-up period. Researchers pulled data from multiple institutional sources: the wellness center attendance database, electronic health records and a health care claims database.

Important results from the study include:

  • Compared to members who visited the DAHLC 1-60 times in the three-year period, members with 181-360 visits were 46 percent more likely to have weight loss, while the individuals with the most visits (more than 360) were 72 percent more likely to have weight loss.
  • Compared with the mean annual cost of $13,267 for 1-60visits, the mean for subjects with 61-180visits, 181-360 visits, and more than 360 visits had significantly lower costs at $9,538, $9,332 and $8,293, respectively.

"The significant association between health care costs and the frequency of wellness center visits, implying an average cost difference of $4,974 between the top and bottom quartiles of the DAHLC users, is too strong to ignore," says Dr. Borah. "While the use of DAHLC is unlikely the only mediator of either weight control or costs, workplaces that are able to offer comprehensive facilities may be capable of achieving similar gains irrespective of individuals' activity pursuits at the facility."

Explore further: Workplace wellness programs can cut chronic illness costs

Related Stories

Workplace wellness programs can cut chronic illness costs

January 6, 2014
Workplace wellness programs can lower health care costs in workers with chronic diseases, but components of the programs that encourage workers to adopt healthier lifestyles may not reduce health costs or lead to lower net ...

Obese workers' health care costs top those of smokers

April 13, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Obese workers have even higher health costs than smokers, a new study finds.

Health care costs steadily increase with body mass

December 16, 2013
Researchers at Duke Medicine are giving people another reason to lose weight in the new year: obesity-related illnesses are expensive. According to a study published in the journal Obesity, health care costs increase in parallel ...

Wellness coaching: Mayo Clinic resiliency expert explains how it improves overall quality of life

August 7, 2014
Wellness coaching has become an increasingly prevalent strategy to help individuals improve their health and well-being. Recently, wellness coaching was found to improve quality of life, mood and perceived stress, according ...

Changes in work, family affect body mass index of dual-income earners

February 19, 2015
A study co-written by a University of Illinois labor and employment relations professor shows that clocking extra hours at the office while juggling family demands takes a toll on the body mass index of individuals in dual-earner ...

Small businesses less likely to offer health promotion programs

June 2, 2014
Employees at small businesses are less likely to have access to worksite wellness programs, according to a research review in the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American ...

Recommended for you

Air pollution may shorten telomeres in newborns

January 24, 2018
A study conducted before and after the 2004 closure of a coal-burning power plant in Tongliang, China, found children born before the closure had shorter telomeres than those conceived and born after the plant stopped polluting ...

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.