Workplace Wellness Programs Can Significantly Reduce Health Risks, Study Finds

from Spencer’s Benefits Reports: Participants in comprehensive workplace wellness programs can achieve a significant reduction in health risks in as little as 18 months, according to recent research from the Principal Financial Group. The study shows the greatest impact in reducing health risks is among participants who also received personalized health coaching. This reduction in health risks can reduce health care costs, Principal noted.

While almost all wellness program participants showed some improvement in health risk status, 34 percent of individuals participating in one-on-one health coaching moved from a high risk status to a lower risk category, Principal found. This shift significantly decreases their likelihood to develop diabetes, heart attack, or stroke. In addition, the study found that the percent of participants considered low-risk increased by more than 11 percent.

The study, which tracked 12,000 adults enrolled in Principal wellness programs over a two-year period, monitored several key indicators of metabolic syndrome including blood pressure, waist circumference, triglycerides, and tobacco use. Metabolic syndrome, often a precursor to diabetes, heart attack or stroke, was used to identify participants at highest risk and those were referred into a health coaching program. Improvement or movement into a lower risk category was defined as no longer having metabolic syndrome.

“These individuals are much more likely to develop a chronic health condition, which will lead to higher medical costs over time,” said Lee Dukes, president of Principal Wellness Company, a subsidiary of the Principal Financial Group. “Employers have limited benefit dollars and health care costs are often their most pressing concern, so employers need to look for the greatest return on their investment. These results reinforce the benefits to employers who offer comprehensive wellness programs.”

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