Linking Employee and Organizational Health
Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Astrid M. Richardsen
Chapter 10: Increasing healthy habits and health behavior change in corporate wellness programs
Sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, tobacco and alcohol use, risky sexual activity and avoidable injuries are strongly linked to unnecessary death and disability (Mokdad et al., 2004, 2005; Schroeder, 2007; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Approximately 68 percent of US adults are overweight or obese (Flegal et al., 2010), and over 25 percent continue to use tobacco products (King et al., 2012). While in the past most US deaths were due to infectious disease, this is no longer the case. Most morbidity and mortality is now related to modifiable health behaviors. Because adults commonly spend the majority of their time on the job, worksites are often an ideal setting in which to encourage healthy living. Corporate wellness programs provide excellent opportunities to promote healthy habits and positive health behavior change to a population that is often less apt to initiate healthy living behaviors on its own (Goetzel and Ozminkowski, 2008). The popularity and investment in such programs is growing (Galinsky and Matos, 2012), with a large employer survey finding that 51 percent of US companies with 50 or more employees now offer some degree of wellness programming (Mattke et al., 2013). The larger the employer the more likely they are to provide a robust wellness program (KFF/HRET, 2012). The growth observed in corporate wellness programs is, in large part, due to the evidence that such programming benefits both employees and organizations.
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