How Much Money Is Weight-Gain Costing Your Business?

small business and weight gain

Health research points to increased stress as a cause for weight gain


Our country is “lost in weight.” The boomer generation is the fattest generation, ever. Our children are at risk. It is projected that half of Generation Z, the generation born into the 20th Century, will be obese during their lifetime.

The annual cost of our national weight crisis is estimated at $5 trillion from increased health care costs, worker absenteeism and reduced productivity. No business can afford to ignore the weight of their work associates.

Weight gain is a business issue

A passive response to work associate weight gain is a recipe for higher costs. No business is looking to take on such a sensitive and personal issue. But what business can ignore a cost of this size and with this growth rate?

Ignoring weight gain also does not align with who most of us are. We care about our work associates. We want the best for them.

The challenge of weight gain is similar to the challenge of dealing with smoking’s health implications. For many businesses that was not an easy healthy issue to embrace. Many work associates had strong, often impassioned, views. But it was the right thing to do.

So is addressing the issue of weight loss. It is good business. It is good for work associates. It is a meaningful way to make a difference by helping your work associates to live more.

Where to start

The obvious question is what should a business do to enable weight loss among its work associates?

Sensitivity and engagement are two focal points for beginning the process. Weight is a highly sensitive and personal issue.

Pointing fingers does not generate sustained weight loss. Even worse, research points to increased stress as a cause for weight gain.

Whatever your business does it should be sensitive to the role stress plays in weight gain and the role that reducing stress plays in enabling weight loss.

Outreach is the engagement starting point due to the sensitive nature of the issue. Consider conducting an anonymous work associate survey to establish an awareness benchmark. Ask associates about how they think weight gain has impacted them and their health.

Explore for how they have tried to lose weight. Ask them about dieting failures and successes. Most especially, seek their input on how they would suggest making this an issue to be addressed within the company.

Then share the survey’s findings with all associates. This step begins the awareness process. Let them know you will be asking them to work with you on figuring out what this survey really means and for their ideas on how to lose weight.

What works for achieving sustained weight loss

There are best practices for diet success. There are best practices for increasing exercise participation.

Here are four proven best practices for implementing a successful weight loss program in a business:

1.  Leadership.

It always starts here but even more so on such a personal topic as weight-gain. This does not mean the business leaders have to be at their CDC recommend body mass index before they can lead. It does mean that leadership is demonstrating their own commitment toward achieving weight loss.

Leading a company to sustained weight loss does require leadership by example. This promotes “we are in this together”  messaging that will accelerate work associate trust and engagement.

Next- 2-4 Teams Lose Weight and more


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