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FAT IS BACK; EMPLOYER BEWARE OF COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH LESS HEALTHY EMPLOYEES

 WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass., June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Only one out of three Americans got strenuous exercise last year, fewer than in 1991. Two- thirds of Americans were overweight and only 44 percent tried to avoid cholesterol in their diet. The findings are part of a growing body of evidence that shows that America, once the nation of fitness fanatics, is now the nation of flab.
 Unhealthy lifestyle practices raise costs for businesses. Employers are faced with higher health and life insurance costs, and their productivity losses due to illnesses and disability are greatly increased.


Reverse the Trend
 Laura Robert of Sun Life of Canada's U.S. operations suggests that employers take a more active role in encouraging employees to lead healthy lifestyles. "An effective way of showing a commitment to employee health and well-being is to initiate a worksite wellness program," said Robert. "Worksite wellness programs are effective because they can reduce health and life insurance premiums and promote healthier, happier, more productive employees."


Shatter the Myth
 Worksite wellness programs are sometimes perceived to be too costly. Some programs are extensive, but Robert says worksite wellness programs don't have to be expensive. "Company-sponsored Fun Runs, daily 30 minute 'employee walks,' nutrition awareness seminars, smoking cessation courses, employee health newsletters and many other low-cost offerings can make up a worksite wellness program," she said.


How to Get Started
 Many resources are available to help companies begin wellness programs. Medical associations, such as the American Cancer Society, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the American Heart Association and local hospitals offer information on low-cost health promotion programs that are relatively easy to implement.
 The Wellness Councils of America, National Resource Center on Worksite Health Promotion and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have numerous publications and information for businesses that want to start worksite wellness programs.
 Robert said that some life insurers offer group insurance premium discounts of up to 5 percent for companies that have fitness, stress management and nutrition classes, no-smoking policies, or other healthful programs.
 /NOTE TO EDITOR: Findings by Louis Harris & Associates Inc./
 -0- 6/4/93
 /CONTACT: Steve Iaco, 212-887-8090, or Camille Lepre, 212-887-8012, both of Creamer Dickson Basford/


CO: Sun Financial Group ST: Massachusetts IN: SU:

DJ -- NEFNS1 -- 5283 06/04/93 07:31 EDT
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Date:Jun 4, 1993
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