GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The prevalence of adult obesity in Florida is at an all-time high with 29 percent of adults being obese. The obesity epidemic is due to a variety of factors which include increase intake of high-calorie foods, decreased fruit and vegetable consumption, and decreased physical activity. All factors that are very visible at adult worksites.
Worksite wellness programs can simultaneously improve the health of employees while also reducing health care costs for employers and improving worker productivity. Maintaining a healthy workforce can lower direct costs, such as insurance premiums and worker compensation claims, and have a positive effect on many indirect costs, such as absenteeism and worker productivity. Participants in worksite wellness programs have 25-30 percent lower medical or absenteeism expenditures that non-participants.
Responding to the need to address employee health UF/IFAS Extension Clay County partners with local employers to provide wellness programs to their employees. Worksite wellness programs can make it easier for employees to make voluntary behavior changes to improve their health.
Workplace wellness programs are one way to improve employee health and wellness and save money. A company’s most important asset is its people. Savvy employers know that happy, healthy employees demonstrate increased productivity and morale and have lower health care costs.
Worksite wellness programs strive to promote a healthy lifestyle for employees, maintain or improve health and wellbeing, and prevent or delay the onset of chronic disease. This is accomplished through raising awareness about the importance of pursuing healthy behaviors and providing programs that encourage these behaviors or slow the progression of chronic disease. These programs include nutrition education, healthy cooking, stress management, blood pressure management, physical activity, tobacco cessation, financial education and more.
Annie Sheldon is an Extension Agent at UF/IFAS Extension Clay County. She provides research-based educational programs on topics such as nutrition, food systems, chronic disease prevention, wellness and family financial management.