wellness digest — week of may 16

May 23, 2011

in wellness digest

a roundup of last week’s news that caught my interest.

1. save ronald mcdonald

last week mcdonald’s was besieged with renewed requests to remove the unhealthy tarnish from their golden arches. health advocates and philadelphia nuns asked for improved reporting, fewer toys and the “deep fry” for ronald.

mcdonald’s clinging to ronald as an emblem for their restaurants has nothing to do with their food and everything to do with image control. ronald’s lawn gnome existence at all ronald mcdonald houses makes him (and them by extension) a paragon of empathy and clara barton-like goodness.

“Ronald is indeed an ambassador who has brought a taste of America to the world. He has sponsored the Olympics, supporting fitness and health. He visits sick children in hospitals, and he has about 300 houses where parents can stay free while their kids undergo chronic care.”

2. employers tell workers to get a move on

i’d say we’re witnessing a burgeoning health zeitgeist. farmers’ markets. locavores. slow-food movements. workplace wellness. e-patients. personal health records. social health. public/private community partnerships. urban gardens. urban chickens! that’s only a smattering of the interests and actions influencing our thinking about health. another that’s gathering steam is the focus on inserting small breaks into our very long days.

“Even companies with tiny fitness budgets can enact schemes that see big health gains. Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor of health sciences at the UCLA School of Public Health, developed an exercise program that requires nothing more than structured 10-minute work breaks. During the workday, taking three such breaks—which involve moves such as marching in place and simple shoulder presses—adds up to the 30 minutes of activity recommended by the U.S. surgeon general.

“Yancey has distributed DVDs with these ‘Instant Recess’ exercises to about 150 small nonprofit and government organizations in L.A. over the last few years. She’s studying the effects of the program with these workers and will release her findings in 2013.”

3. diabetic? ford may have an app for that

ford’s been working with welldoc to make our cars into techno lassies. some critics wonder why we’d want our cars to monitor our health when devices already exist to do just that. i don’t know—i think it’d be pretty great if my car alerted fellow drivers when i’m in crisis mode.

“Working with WellDoc, a start-up developer of software-based health management tools, Ford has created a prototype system that could monitor health issues like congestive heart failure and asthma, then display and transmit alerts if the driver is in danger.”

4. 75% of multinational employers focusing on employee wellness: survey

here in the U.S., some have posited employers would drop wellness faster than maria shriver dropped arnold if they weren’t in the business of providing health benefits. not so, according to a new study from towers watson about wellness going global.

“When asked to cite the primary objectives for their global health strategy, 54% of the 149 multinational corporations responding to the survey said it was to demonstrate their continued interest in employee well-being, resiliency and stress management, while 52% said it was to help control rising health care costs.

“European, Middle East and African employers were more likely to rank employee well-being and stress management as primary objectives, while North American companies were more likely to cite controlling health care costs.”

5. for gay employees, an equalizer

physical well-being is an attention hog. it overshadows our need for mental, financial and social well-being. a growing number of employees are working to improve all at once by paying an extra health tax only gay employees with domestic partners see.

“These companies are reaching into their own pockets to pay for an extra tax that their gay employees owe on their partners’ health insurance—something that their married heterosexual co-workers don’t have to worry about because the federal government recognizes them as an economic unit.

“To gay employees, gaining equal benefits is about more than the money. The gesture itself validates their relationship with their partners at a time when the government has not.”

6. vermont steps closer to single-payer health care

vermont seems to be on track to have the first single-payer health care system in the U.S. not only do they want to conquer their own state-based health crisis, they want to serve as a model for our future.

“If Vermont does get it right, it could see more businesses and jobs coming in. Shumlin sees this type of health insurance as a big financial ease for employers, especially small-business owners.

“That’s a big economic incentive, but it wasn’t enough to save the single-payer provision of the Affordable Care Act from being axed by Congress last year. Yet Vermont might be the right size and the right political environment to be a sandbox for a single-payer system in America, and Shumlin believes it could serve as a model for other states.”


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean Christensen May 23, 2011 at 10:22 am

Love the “get a move on” article. Provides such good fuel for the business case (!) and ideas that anyone could adopt. Thanks for finding and sharing! And for your supportive words for Ronald : ).


fran May 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

jean, i’m curious to see what yancey reports in 2013. ronald is a positive model for the ronald mcdonald houses, in particular. i can understand mcdonald’s not wanting to give him up.



DialDoctors May 23, 2011 at 10:26 am

Great summary of the top stories Fran! You always keep up updated.


fran May 23, 2011 at 10:56 am

thanks. great to know that you get something from the digest. feel free to share your favorite story from the week.



DialDoctors May 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

Yes, we absolutely are being informed in a concise and simple way. Thanks for creating the path Fran.
Our favorite story is how Ford looks to introduce health wellness apps to its cars. I think it is great that soon they’ll be assisting diabetics guard their blood glucose levels, detect diseased atmosphere conditions and offer wellness advice. It is a genius way to implement tech-savvy devices to improve the driver’s health and keep track of his state.


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