The holidays aren’t easy on a lot of things—including waistlines. On average, most people gain at least one pound each holiday season, and while it may not seem like much, it adds up. And people who are already overweight tend to gain more.
That’s a trend Kaiser Permanente is trying to prevent. The health care giant has launched a campaign called Maintain Don’t Gain that provides employers and their employees tips for staying healthy during the holiday season. The campaign really comes down to promoting the message of prevention and healthy lifestyles to employers, explains Jennifer Christian-Herman, executive director, Healthworks product management and innovation.
“Health and lifestyle and wellness factors really play in to the productivity and happiness of your work force,” Christian-Herman says. These wellness factors are especially important to curb and manage health costs.
“Lifestyle factors account for so much of the direct cost. In the long term, they turn into more serious problems like heart attacks and diabetes, but recently there’s been so many lifestyle risks taking its toll on productivity at work,” she says. “And if someone’s kids are overweight then that impacts the parents’ productivity at work and their absenteeism. As employers have seen this and come to understand this, they’ve been looking for ways for people to engage in behavior change.”
Kaiser’s campaign is mostly e-mail driven, as the company sends tips each week to employers who sign up. This starts around Halloween and ends after New Year’s.
“Often things launched in our marketplace are high tech and online and snazzy and this is really back to basics,” Christian-Herman says. “It’s a straight-forward tool and people really like that.”
The program was first tested out by Kaiser employees in Colorado who “embraced” the program, and this year expanded to employers around the country. It’s not asking too much—a good incentive to sign up, explains Program Product Manager Winnie Wambugu, because it’s not a weight loss program. “There’s no pressure to lose weight. All we are trying to do is get through the season without putting on any more weight,” she says. “Ultimately they’ll learn some key lessons they’ll take with them in the new year.”
Some tips from Maintain Don’t Gain program:
- Manage the real estate on your plate. Think less starches, more fruits and vegetables.
- If it’s not good for you, don’t keep it near you (ie: leftover Halloween candy).
- Stock up on fresh fruit. They make healthier—and more satisfying—snacks.
- Move more. Park your car a little further away so you walk more. Walk around your neighborhood. Take just 15 minutes in your day to move around. You don’t have to spend all your time at the gym.
- Avoid the temptation of the baked goods coworkers bring into the office around the holidays. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it.