With levels of obesity and its health-related impacts continuing to rise in the U.S., employers are facing a fast-growing threat to productivity and employee health. Humana Inc., one of the nation’s leading health and well-being companies, and Weight Watchers International, Inc., the world’s leading provider of weight management services, announced they have teamed up to help Arizona employers attack the problem.
All Humana members in qualified employer-sponsored health plans now have free and discounted access to Weight Watchers through an integrated wellness program built into their health plan, giving Humana members a proven and accessible approach to change their habits and improve their health. The first-of-its-kind program closely integrates Weight Watchers into Humana’s many medical and wellness programs, actively connecting members who want to lose weight to the program at no cost for six months, and at a significant discount thereafter.
“We want to help employers find effective ways to battle obesity, improve the overall wellness of their employees and create healthy communities,” said Beth Bierbower, President of Humana’s Employer Group Segment. “With that in mind, partnering with Weight Watchers just made sense – it allows us to connect our members with a leading weight loss program so that they can better navigate their wellness journeys.”
“As the leading weight management program focused on helping people change their behavior and achieve their goals, our mission to ‘change people’s relationship with food for good’ directly aligns with Humana’s mission to ‘support lifelong well-being,’” said Jim Chambers, president and CEO, Weight Watchers International, Inc. “Working together, we can help more people develop the goals, plans and skills they need to improve their overall health.”
Southwest Human Development, Arizona’s largest nonprofit dedicated to early childhood development, is heavily engaged in workplace wellness and looking forward to offering the new program to its more than 830 employees. Chief Executive Officer Ginger Ward believes adding the new offering from Humana and Weight Watchers will help her employees and their families reach their wellness goals.
“It’s important that we help our employees and their families achieve and live a healthy lifestyle,” Ward said. “The addition of the Weight Watchers program to our much-used HumanaVitality employee wellness initiative will connect our employees and their family members who want to get to a healthy weight with the tools and resources they need to successfully reach their goal.”
According to recent studies, U.S. employers are losing billions in productivity every year to obesity-related health issues. Additional research shows that obese and overweight employees are at higher risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many other chronic diseases, all of which contribute to healthcare costs. While there is no silver bullet for managing obesity, more employers are taking on this challenge by offering resources to employees.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Guidelines support intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions, including community-based programs, as effective for obesity treatment. As a behavioral intervention, Weight Watchers helps people to adopt a healthier lifestyle that results in achieving and learning to maintain a healthy weight.
“Obesity is a significant health issue for this country and has a devastating effect on the health of employees and, by extension, on their employers,” said Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. “We applaud the commitment by Humana and Weight Watchers to battle obesity and we embrace their initiative to make weight loss programs widely available to health plan members. Ultimately, employers can and should play a role in combating obesity and will welcome the development of accessible, affordable and evidence-based weight management solutions.”
Weight Watchers is now offered to all Humana members insured through qualified employer-based health plans. Members with weight loss goals will be actively connected to Weight Watchers through Humana’s disease management programs, health coaches, personal nurses, customer service and HumanaVitality.
Humana participants can chose Weight Watchers OnlinePlus to follow the plan entirely online with new 24/7 Expert Chat real-time support and access to all the digital tools and apps; or they can choose Weight Watchers Meetings for face-to-face support from a Coach who has lost weight with Weight Watchers and exchange experiences with a group of like-minded peers, along with 24/7 Expert Chat and digital tools and apps.