Employers should disband employee weight control programs

Am J Manag Care. 2015 Feb 1;21(2):e91-4.


American corporations continue to expand wellness programs, which now reach an estimated 90% of workers in large organizations, yet no study has demonstrated that the main focus of these programs-weight control-has any positive effect. There is no published evidence that large-scale corporate attempts to control employee body weight through financial incentives and penalties have generated savings from long-term weight loss, or a reduction in inpatient admissions associated with obesity or even long-term weight loss itself. Other evidence contradicts the hypothesis that population obesity rates meaningfully retard economic growth or manufacturing productivity. Quite the contrary, overscreening and crash dieting can impact employee morale and even harm employee health. Therefore, the authors believe that corporations should disband or significantly reconfigure weight-oriented wellness programs, and that the Affordable Care Act should be amended to require such programs to conform to accepted guidelines for harm avoidance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Benefit Plans, Employee / economics*
  • Health Benefit Plans, Employee / organization & administration
  • Health Promotion / economics*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / economics
  • Program Evaluation
  • Treatment Failure
  • United States
  • Workplace*