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KailashBaas

Mrs.Honey
Government2
21October2015
IncentivestobeHealthy
In1960,49.7percentofAmericanswereoverweightorobese,andnostatehadan
obesityrateabovefifteenpercent.In2014,68.8percentofadultAmericanswereeither
overweightorobese,andnostatehadanobesityratebelow20percent.Obesityisnolongerjust
aproblemitisnowanepidemic.Countlessstudieshaveshownthatobesepeopleareatahigher
riskforcardiovasculardisease,heartattacks,strokes,diabetes,cancer,arthritis,gallstones,
asthma,cataracts,infertility,sleepapnea,andnumerousothermedicalconditions.Despitethe
largeamountofscientificevidence,obesityratescontinuetorise.Itisclearthatpersonalhealth
isnotenoughtomotivateahealthylifestyleandthatsomethingelseisneededtoreduceobesity
rates.Theonlywaytocombatthistrendisbyofferingotherincentives.Thefederalgovernment
shouldprovidefederalfundingtocompaniesthatofferincentivesforhealthyemployeesforthree
reasons:itwillreduceobesitybetterthanothermethods,itwillreducehealthrelatedcostsof
obesity,anditwillreducethenegativeeffectsofobesityonbusinesses.
Nonhealthrelatedincentivestomaintainahealthyweightwilllessenobesityrates.As
timehasgoneon,moreandmorestudieshavebeenpublishedaboutthenegativeeffectsof
obesity.Despitethis,moreandmorepeoplecontinuetobecomeobese.Duetothistrend,
materialincentiveswillbemuchmoreeffectivemotivationaltoolsthanotherpossibleprograms.
AUSDepartmentofLaborstudyshowedthat...participationinaprogramaimedtocontrol

bodyweight,improvenutrition,orincreaseexerciseisassociatedwithasignificantdecreasein
BMI(Soerenn78).Thisstudyshowsthathealthprogramswithoutanyincentives(exceptfor
personalhealth)arealreadyincrediblyeffectiveatreducingBMI(BodyMassIndex).When
givenaphysicalincentive,programparticipationwillriseandthisprogramwillundoubtedly
becomemoreeffective.Asprogramparticipationrises,moreandmorepeoplewillloseweight,
achievingthegoalofmakingthecountryhealthier.Additionally,thecompaniesarewillingto
participateinthistypeofprogram.AccordingtoHarvardUniversity,Ninetyonepercentof
employersbelievedtheycouldreducetheirhealthcarecostsbyinfluencingemployeestoadopt
healthierlifestyles,showingawillingnesstoparticipateintheseprograms(HealthyWeight).
Notonlywilltheparticipantshavemotivationtoparticipate,buttheadministrationwillalsobe
motivatedtodoasuperbjob.Whenbothpartiesaremotivated,theprogrambecomestruly
effective.Also,theamountofemployersthatbelievetheycanmakeapositivechangeshowsthat
thisprogramwillbeeffectiveacrosstheboardandnotinonlyseveralspecificsituations.While
reducingobesityisgreat,somemayaskwhyisitsoimportant?Thereareseveralreasonsfor
whyitisimportanttoreduceobesitythechiefreasonbeinghealth.
Therearenumerousnegativeeffectsofobesity,butmostofthecostsarehealthrelated.
Thefirstcostistheobeseindividualshealth.Thesecondcostisthestrainplacedonthe
healthcaresystem.Obviously,negativehealtheffectsarehealthrelatedcostsofobesity.Also,
theonlyreasonstrainisplacedonthehealthcaresystemisbecauseofthehealtheffectsof
obesity.Overweightandobesepeopleareathigherriskforheartdisease,strokes,diabetes,
cancer,andnumerousotherdiseases...obeseandoverweightindividualsaremuchlesshealthy
thantheirnonobeseandoverweightcounterparts(Harcombe36).Clearly,allofthesepotential

diseasesandconditionsaredangerousandareoftencausedbyanunhealthyweight.Any
possiblewaytoreducetheriskofthesediseasesshouldbeembraced.TheUSDepartmentof
Laborstudyalsoshowedthatparticipationinthe[wellness]programresultedinanoverall
significantreductionofweight(Soerenn82).Itisclearthatthisprogramwillreduceobesity,
whichwillhelpreducetheriskofmanypreventablediseases.Inadditiontoindividualhealth
costs,obeseandoverweightindividualsalsoharmthehealthcaresystem.Accordingtothe
CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention,theestimatedhealthcarerelatedcostsofobesityin
2008were$147billion.Sincethen,thisnumberhasonlycontinuedtorise,withrecent
estimatessuggestingthatthecostsarenowabove$160billion.Thesecostsareduetoobese
peoplealoneanddonotincludeoverweightpeople.Additionally,thesecostsdonotinclude
increasedoperatingcostsofhospitalsduetoobesityrelatedproblems.Itisclearthatobesityhas
hadasignificantimpactontheeconomy,andthatweshouldbedoinganythingwecantoreduce
thesecosts.Byreducingobesity,thesecostswillbereduced.Employeewellnessprogramswill
helpreduceboththepersonalandhealthcarecostsofobesity.However,thesearenottheonly
costsofobesity.
Employersarealsoseverelyaffectedbyobeseemployees.Obeseemployeesaremore
expensivethanhealthyemployeesandhavenumerousadditionalcosts.Thelargestadditional
costishealthcare,buttherearealsoseveralotherfactorsthatmakeobeseemployeesexpensive.
AccordingtotheSocietyofActuaries,UnitedStatesemployersloseanestimated$164billiona
yearduetoobesityrelatedproblems(Beckley).Thesecostscomefromavarietyofsources,but
thetwolargestarehealthcareandabsenteeism.Obeseemployeesaremuchmorelikelytobe
absentthantheirhealthycounterparts.Bylesseningtheobesityrate,employerswilllosemuch

lessmoneyduetoobeseemployees.Additionally,healthyemployeesaremoreproductiveand
lessexpensivethanobeseemployees(Lynch).Healthyemployeesareatworkmoreoften,work
moreefficiently,andarelessexpensive.Makingtheworkforcehealthierwillhelpalotof
businessessavealotofmoney.DespitethenumerousbenefitstomakingAmericalessobese,
manypeoplearestillagainstprogramslikethese.
Therearetwomaincounterargumentstothisprogram:itispointlesssinceitispossible
tobehealthyateverysizeandthattheprogramitselfisdiscrimination.Therehasbeenarecent
movementknownasHealthyAtEverySize(HAES)thatclaimsthatobesityisnotunhealthyand
thatitispossibletobehealthyateverysize.Thisargumentisblatantlyincorrect.Whileitistrue
thatnotallskinnypeoplearehealthy,itisnottruethatitispossibleforanobesepersontobe
healthy.Bybeingobese,oneisautomaticallyunhealthy.Allobeseindividualsareautomatically
atahigherriskforhighbloodpressureandcholesterol,type2diabetes,heartdisease,and
strokes(ThePresidentsChallenge).Also,itisimpossibleforthistobeconsidered
discriminationsinceitisexplicitlyallowedunderUnitedStateslaw.[Wellness]programs
allowsyouremployerorplantoofferyoupremiumdiscounts,cashrewards,gymmemberships,
andotherincentivestoparticipate(Healthcare.gov).Ifthiswasconsidereddiscriminatory,than
itwouldnotbealaw.Overall,thisprogramisneitherdiscriminatorynorpointless.
Federallyfundingcompaniesthatofferincentivesforemployeestobehealthywillreduce
obesity,healthrelatedcostsofobesity,andobesityimpactsonemployers.Obesityisnolonger
aproblem.Itisnowanepidemic.Thisissomethingthatwewillcontinuetohearmoreand
morefromthemedicalcommunityastheUnitedStatesbecomesmoreandmoreobese.Wecan
nolongercontinuetoignorethisproblemorpretendthatobesityishealthy.Wehavetotake

action.Ifnotintheformoflegislation,thanintheformofpersonalaction.Drinkwaterinstead
ofsoda.RunfortwentyminutesinsteadofwatchingmoreNetflix.Doeverythingyoucanto
remainhealthy,becauseintheend,healthisallwehave.

WorksCited
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CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention
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forDiseaseControlandPrevention,16June2015.Web.14Sept.2015.
Beckley,Jeff."ObesityandItsRelationtoMortalityandMorbidityCosts."
SOA
.Societyof
Actuaries,Dec.2010.Web.22Sept.2015.
Harcombe,Zo.TheObesityEpidemic:WhatCausedIt?HowCanWeStopIt?
U.K.:Columbus,
2010.Print.
"HealthyWeight."
TheNutritionSource
.HarvardUniversity,17Apr.2013.Web.23Sept.2015.
Lynch,WendyB.,PhD."Whatisahealthyemployeeworth?"
WellnessCouncilsofAmerica
(2012):n.pag.2012.Web.23Sept.2015.
Mattke,Soerenn."EvaluatingCorporateWellnessPrograms."
CorporateWellnessPrograms
(2014):29596.2013.Web.24Sept.2015.
"ThePresident'sChallenge."
BenefitsofBeingFit&EatingWell:GetMotivated:The
President'sChallenge
.ThePresident'sChallenge,n.d.Web.23Sept.2015.
"WellnessPrograms."
HealthCare.gov
.UnitedStatesGovernment,n.d.Web.23Oct.2015.