Dieting for workplace dollars

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe, Ap Medical Writer

ATLANTA — How much money would it take to get you to lose some serious weight? $100? $500?

Many employers are betting they can find your price. At least a third of U.S. companies offer financial incentives, or are planning to introduce them, to get their employees to lose weight or get healthier in other ways.

“There’s been an explosion of interest in this,” said Dr. Kevin Volpp, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Incentives.

Take OhioHealth, a hospital chain whose workforce is mostly overweight. The company last year embarked on a program that paid employees to wear pedometers and get paid for walking. The more they walk, the more they win — up to $500 a year.

Anecdotal success stories are everywhere. Half of the 9,000 employees at the chain’s five main hospitals signed up, more than $377,000 in rewards have already been paid out, and many workers tell of weight loss and a sudden need for slimmer clothes.

But does will this kind of effort really put a permanent dent in American’s seemingly intractable obesity problem? Not likely. [Read more...]

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