Friday, December 19, 2014

Indiana Company Sees Corporate Wellness Program Success

Batesville, IN-based casket maker Hillenbrand Inc. has seen significant amounts of weight lost by
employees by telling them to eat more.

Six months ago, the company instituted a program called Target Metabolism among 125 employees. Based on early results, Hillenbrand is considering expanding the program to all 900 of its workers in Batesville and possibly to the rest of its 6,000 workers worldwide.

Run by On Target Health LLC, the program helps participants drop weight by losing only fat tissue, not muscle or other "lean body mass." On Target does this determining each participant’s ideal level of daily calorie intake and encouraging them to hit that target. The company found that nearly half the participants weren’t eating enough, especially during their meeting-filled work days.

On Target determines calorie targets by conducting two tests: An indirect calorimeter sees how fast each person’s body burns calories, and the company also uses a machine called a BodPod to see how many pounds of fat each person has. The company then gauges success by measuring participants’ fat content every 2 weeks, and checking their blood sugar and cholesterol every 3 months. participants have lost an average of 9.5 lb—or a total of 1,300 lb.

Hillenbrand represents a key test of corporate wellness because it offers one of the most comprehensive sets of healthcare services to employees in corporate America and is doing so at a time employers—about 95% of which have some sort of wellness program—are doubling down on the concept because they’re desperate to save money on fast-rising benefits costs. Also, the Affordable Care Act is giving employers even more tax incentives to institute wellness programs.
However, recent research suggests the efforts have almost universally failed and that they influence only a tiny percentage of all spending on healthcare. The challenge for Hillenbrand will be to see if the early results hold up for the long term.

Read more about the program and an analysis of the potential challenges it faces. For more information, visit ASSE's Health & Wellness Branch and NIOSH's Total Worker Health program site.