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Good Business Practice of the day, Obesity edition

October 31, 2007

IBM has decided to approach the rising obesity rates from a slightly different angle. They are offering a $150 rebate to employees who encourage healthy eating and exercise habits in their families. In order to earn the rebate, employees create a 12 week healthy living program. According to IBM:

[E]mployees use an interactive online tool to manage their family’s eating and exercise habits with self-paced tracking plans that can be securely accessed only by the employee’s family. The program does not have weight loss targets or exercise requirements. It suggests activities for families such as preparing family dinners together, and spending time on family walks and active games. Families take an inventory of their eating and activity habits, considering such points as how often they eat dinner together, how many servings of fruits and vegetables they eat each day and how often they exercise.

Detractors will say that since the program relies on self-reporting, employees can simply make up the data they put in online and claim the $150 anyways. This is true. But still credit IBM for trying something different as they look to decrease their own insurance costs for their employees. Incentive-based programs will likely work much better than punitive programs that punish employees for being overweight and unhealthy. Rather than focusing on arbitrary targets, they are encouraging healthy eating and exercise in general. It remains to be seen if this approach will have any measurable effect, but kudos to IBM for thinking of a new way to approach the problem.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. andy permalink*
    October 31, 2007 3:36 pm

    You clearly love obesity

  2. Ashley permalink
    October 31, 2007 4:15 pm

    There is a lady in my office that has joined a weight loss group that opperates like a self-imposed “BIGGEST LOSER” series. Everyone in the challenge contributes a pre-determined amount into the ‘bank.’ At the end of a certain amount of time, the person with the most weight loss get’s all the cash. I think in her group, the bank was up to a couple grand. Think about how many McNugget’s you can get with that?

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