Diabetes is becoming an epidemic in the US. Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) costs $176 billion each year in medical expenses and an additional $69 billion in indirect costs due to absenteeism, post productivity, and disability . Employers bear much of this financial burden. Because of the high costs of T2DM to employers, the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association, and the CDC have all recommended that employers implement diabetes prevention programs . These programs can stand alone or be a part of a broader workplace health promotion program which can reduce expenditures related to health benefits and absenteeism.
Diabetes Prevention Programs' Impact on Workplace Heath
A recent study reviewed the research literature on T2DM prevention programs and provides valuable information and conclusions. It was found that workplace interventions to prevent T2DM can indeed reduce weight, and thereby reduce the risk of T2DM in employees. The greatest weight loss was reported among intensive lifestyle interventions that were at least 4 months in duration and most studies reported increased levels of physical activity following the intervention.
Health Coaching & Group Counseling
These diabetes prevention interventions can come in many forms, although health coaching is typically the main component. Coaching is most effective when done weekly through one-on-one telephone sessions or in small groups and attendance in these meetings increases when these sessions are over the lunch break or immediately following the workday. Group counseling has the benefit of encouraging employees to engage with one another and hold each other accountable whereas one-on-one sessions have the benefit of being able to provide individualized counseling and information.
Environmental Modifications to Encourage Healthy Choices
More subtle facets of a comprehensive T2DM prevention program include environmental modifications to help employees make healthy choices. Modifications can be changes such as increasing healthy food options in cafeterias and vending machines, using software that reminds sedentary employees to take a break and move, or even establishing a walking path on company grounds. The research found that positive outcomes are achieved when the intervention is not only comprehensive, but also part of a culture that genuinely encourages employee wellness. The most important thing to remember is that employers should establish the social and physical environments necessary to support employee well-being.
Get Help with Implementing a Prevention Program
Briotix offers a range of services to employers looking to implement a diabetes prevention program. Our ErgoFit system has a component that looks at fitness screens such as strength, flexibility, & endurance. These screens determine at-risk employees, who can elect to join a program and be tracked every 90 days. Our BxEdge Assessment and our Efficiency Software can also help to determine the employees who would most benefit from a comprehensive program. While implementing a intervention can seem daunting, it has been found to be cost effective over the long run.
 Hafez, D., Fedewa, A., Moran, M. et al. Curr Diab Rep (2017) 17: 9. doi:10.1007/s11892-017-0840-0