May 14th, 2010

Battling the Obesity Epidemic in the Workplace

The following is from my friend and colleague, From Efrem Dlugacz who is Vice President Global Total Rewards & Health Resource.

Having worked for many years handling benefits for Johnson & Johnson, I can tell you that employee wellness and disease prevention is as important as to me as ensuring employees have access to different treatment options. For many years, we’ve been encouraging employees to develop healthy lifestyles, and one of the most pressing challenges we face is figuring out a way to address the impact that inactivity and obesity have on our workforce.

In that, of course, we aren’t alone. Did you know that about two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese in the US and the direct and indirect cost of obesity-associated conditions in the United States is estimated at nearly $80 billion a year? People who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk for developing diabetes, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol and certain types of cancers – and for an employer, that can mean greater absenteeism and higher healthcare costs compared to non-obese employees.

But employers can help make a difference.

We’ve found that employees who are inactive, overweight or obese, benefit greatly from company sponsored programs that focus on healthy living, eating, and exercise. In 1978, Johnson & Johnson launched “Live for Life,” a program tailored to address individual employee health needs. Since then, we’ve developed, launched and measured a number of successful wellness and prevention programs and as a result, our employees are motivated and encouraged to improve their health and reduce related health care issues. As National Employee Health & Fitness Day approaches, we invite you to check out the following video about one Johnson & Johnson employee – Jessica Empestan – who benefited from these programs:


elping employees manage their weight and healthier lifestyles are important for all businesses – not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it makes good business sense. Studies show that by combating obesity in the workplace we can decrease employee absenteeism, improve productivity and reduce health care costs. All these important benefits strengthen businesses in the long term. We believe society will not succeed in reducing health care costs and improving lives … until we pay as much attention to preventing disease and its complications as we do to treating it, or insuring care.

6 Responses to “Battling the Obesity Epidemic in the Workplace”

  1. Susan Carr says

    I am looking forward to reading more about your healthy lifestyle programs as we are in the planning stages of the same. Thanks!

  2. Eileen Kerekes says

    Best of luck to you Jessica! J&J values their employees’ health and wellness!

  3. Allan Bowyer says

    Kudos to you for sharing such a personal experience so candidly. Your reflection on how physical health can impact one’s work life and one’s relationships is spot-on! Thanks again.

  4. Sandy Jones, MA says

    I would like to learn more about J&J’s initiatives to help pregnant employees and new moms. I’m the author of “Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth” (Sterling Publishing).

  5. Yvonne says

    Hello there,

    I am an independent journalist from the UK and I was wondering if I could use this video for an online article I am currently writing for an HR magazine. Is there anyone I can contact for more information about this blog and this Youtube account?

Leave a Reply

All comments will be reviewed before posting. Since this blog is about Johnson & Johnson, comments that don’t directly relate to the Company or to topics covered on this blog won’t be posted. Please see our comments policy for details.