wellness digest—week of february 21

February 28, 2011

in wellness digest

lots of interesting articles to choose from this past week:

1. mercer’s pan-european survey of employer health benefits

this study looks at the health benefits companies in 14 european countries offer. a majority offer rich benefits, including private medical insurance, employee assistance programs, and dental and vision plans, to attract and retain talent.

“The survey showed that private medical plans, which include both mandated and voluntary supplemental plans, are offered by nearly all respondents (93 percent) from countries with government model health systems, including Ireland, UK, Portugal, Spain and Italy. In contrast, private medical coverage is offered by just under three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents in social insurance model countries, such as Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Some of these countries have generous and efficient national health systems, which lessens the value of providing a private-sponsored benefit.”

2. health apps are about as effective as public health ads

a contrarian voice is heard from. jay parkinson argues on the future well blog that health apps are clunky, overrated tools for improving health.

“There’s no reason to assume that any of these apps have better than 5% usage after one month of downloading them. In fact, the majority of these apps require an active engagement such as inputting your food to count calories. Try doing that for longer than a week and see what happens. Active data collection is ridiculously cumbersome, time consuming, and a bit socially inappropriate when eating with others. Even when the data collection is passive (install something once and data just flows to you), what will you do with the data?”

3. big apple bans smoking in public: have health police run amok?

how could i not include this bit of news, given the amount of dialogue on my post about banning junk food at work?

“Smokers in the Big Apple are fuming, now that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed into law a ban on lighting up in city parks, beaches, public plazas and boardwalks. His administration banned smoking in restaurants, bars and other public indoor spaces in 2002…some health experts question whether the smoke poses a serious danger in open, outdoor spaces. And critics of the law say the city is trampling on civil liberties.”

4. many stick with fast food after heart attack: study

illustrating how difficult behavior change really is, this study found more than half of heart attack survivors frequent fast food restaurants at least once a week six months after their attack. one of the authors commented:

“Nine out of 10 patients in the current study had received dietary counseling before they left the hospital, but this didn’t seem to affect the odds that frequent fast food eaters would improve their diets. Their behavior shows they need more education after discharge, Spertus says.

“‘The problem is that patients are absorbing so much information at the time of their heart attack, that I just don’t think they can capture and retain all the information they’re getting,’” he said.

5. it’s official—U.S. department of labor advocates work-life “fit”

cali yost was dancing somewhere this week. a long-time proponent of the term “work-life fit” over work-life balance, cali wrote about why it matters that the U.S secretary of labor chose “fit” for her keynote address at the department of labor women’s bureau conference:

“Her use of the term is exciting because, as I’ve noted before, ‘fit’ makes a big, meaningful difference.  The language allows us escape the innovation-killing 10 tyrannies of work/life balance…and embrace new possibilities.”

6. campbell recognizes employees for healthy lifestyles

i’m writing this post while watching the red carpet special preceding the oscars. it seems fitting to include campbell’s release about their healthy lifestyle award. companies send out press releases when they’re recognized by national organizations for their employee wellness efforts, but how often do they publicize their employees’ individual successes? campbell spoke at a client’s wellness council meeting a year about their healthy lifestyle award. they make it a big deal. fly in the winners to meet senior leaders. throw a big celebration. shower them with internal recognition. then there’s this press release. i’m pretty sure these employees feel special and others understand health’s a big deal.

“Selected from 65 applications from 15 Campbell sites in North America, the five ‘Healthy Lifestyle Award’ winners include: Priscilla Breeding of Pepperidge Farm’s Downer’s Grove, Illinois facility; Kim Hall of Pepperidge Farm Headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut; Rebecca Kerr, of Campbell’s World Headquarters in Camden, New Jersey; Willy Mzerera of Campbell Company of Canada’s Toronto manufacturing facility; and Thora Williams of Campbell Canada’s Toronto Headquarters.”

7. henry ford health system to offer wellness programs to business

after conducting two pilots, henry ford health system joins the 18% of hospital systems that sell their wellness services to businesses. i saw gerard van grinsven, CEO of henry ford west bloomfield hospital, part of the henry ford health system, speak at BIF. they’re on to something there.

Capitalizing on two successful pilot projects with Chrysler Group LLC in Auburn Hills and Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, the six-hospital system’s Center for Integrative Wellness in Southfield received $400,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan last month for a pilot project to provide group wellness services to 600 members who have pain and stress-related ailments, said Alba Rodriguez, the center’s associate director.

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