Kids in Crisis

Statistics tell us that 15% of America’s children and teens are overweight, and an additional 16% are obese.  That adds up to 24 million children – nearly tripled from what it was 30 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In addition, today’s obese children have an 80% probability of still being obese at age 25.  “Hospitalization rates and physician visits rates are 3.7% and 1.7% higher, respectively, for obese children.”

This isn’t just a parental or societal problem; this has become an employer problem as well.  Many employers may have wellness programs in place to help their employees live healthier lives, even providing health risk assessments to help determine problem areas.  Helping a parent learn about healthy eating habits and choices can have a trickle-down effect for their children.  So can encouraging employees (and their families) to limit TV/computer/video time and engage in some form of exercise on a regular basis.

There are a few wellness programs already available to help families work together to improve their health.  Most see positive results in parents first, and then the kids come around.  “Employers have a lot [more] influence in the communities they’re in than they acknowledge.  That’s what is going to drive their medical costs.  Kids are the new frontier.”

From Employee Benefit News, November 2011 issue, pp. 27-30.