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New CDC Web Site Helps Businesses Address Employee Obesity

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 26, 2009

The CDC has launched a Web site to help businesses tackle the nation's fast-growing obesity crisis. LEANWorks!, which stands for Leading Employees to Activity and Nutrition, was unveiled at a National Business Group on Health meeting today in Washington, DC.

"CDC LEANWorks! was developed in direct response to organizations asking CDC for help in addressing the obesity epidemic. Specifically, they wanted to know what interventions were effective in helping employees maintain a healthy weight," says William Dietz, MD, director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. "CDC has identified science-based interventions that work to prevent and control obesity. CDC LEANWorks! provides the tools that employers need to take action."

The just-released 2009 PRC National Health Report - 1995-2008 Detailed Findings surveyed 1,000 American adults from across the nation and found that obesity is growing at alarming rates. Currently, 67.4% of adults nationwide are overweight (with a body mass index of 25 or higher). In 1995, it was 50%. The prevalence of obese Americans (29% of Americans have a BMI value of 30 or higher) has doubled since it was first measured in 1995 (14.7%). At-risk groups include lower-income adults, African-Americans, and adults aged 40 to 64.

Obesity is a risk factor for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Obese individuals spend 77% more money for necessary medications than non-obese persons, CDC said.

"Obesity affects more than just healthcare costs. It also has a significant impact on worker productivity because the more chronic diseases employees have, the more likely they are to be absent from work, or less productive if they come to work sick," says Janet Collins, director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

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