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Business people walking

Employee health programs and initiatives can greatly benefit business owners as well as the employees, and can be more profitable than one would think. Improving employee health can lead to a direct Return on Investment (ROI) from money spent on a workplace obesity prevention and control program or facility.

Employer Benefits Potential benefits for employees and families:

Increases job performance

Increases productivity

Lowers healthcare costs

Reduces absenteeism and sick time

Decreases absenteeism

Improves fitness and health

Improves employee retention

Promotes higher job satisfaction

Increases employee morale

Provides social support within the workplace

Improves the bottom line

Improves quality of family time

Employers can play a critical role in obesity prevention by encouraging active living and healthy eating for employees during the workday and with their families while not at work. 


Increase physical activity opportunities through an employee wellness program

  • Use stability balls instead of desk chairs to promote core strengthening and balance
  • Hold fitness classes such as Zumba during lunch breaks
  • Offer pedometers as incentives for employees to achieve 10,000 steps each day
  • Start the day with physical activities such as stretching, yoga or Pilates
  • Encourage employees to take a quick walk during breaks

Provide access to healthy foods at the worksite and during work events

  • Set nutrition standards for foods served during business meetings and meals
  • Promote product replacement in the vending machines to offer healthier options
  • Begin a worksite Farmer’s Market or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  • Serve water and calorie-free beverages at meetings and seminars

Offer benefits for employees and families for obesity and chronic disease prevention

  • Develop worksite supported weight management or healthy eating programs through support group, nutrition classes, and incentive programs
  • Encourage families to participate in behavioral interventions such as eating more fruits and vegetables or being more physically active
  • Provide nutrition education and physical activity guidelines for chronic disease prevention
  • Send a monthly or quarterly newsletter with healthy tips, family-friendly activities, and community events

Support Breastfeeding

Full-time mothers of children younger than 3 years of age are the fastest growing population in the workplace. Many women return to work while still breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months after birth and breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age. By being open-minded and flexible to new mothers in the workplace, businesses can contribute to the overall health of the newborns and support the mothers as they juggle both important roles of mother and employee.

The Business Case for Breastfeeding provides resources for businesses and employers to support mothers returning to work.

Promote the Use of Stairs

One easy way to promote physical activity is to encourage employees to burn calories on the stairs. Use signs near the elevators and at the stairwells that urge employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Have an office pedometer competition and see who can get the most steps in a day or the work week.