With fully a third of American adults now officially labeled obese, employers are making renewed efforts to combat its cost on their bottom line. Some are becoming quite innovative as they reach out to those with weight-control issues.

Among the emerging strategies identified by research by the Northeast Business Group on Health is "gamification," which draws upon such popular television shows as "The Biggest Loser" to introduce friendly competition into corporate wellness programs. Technology is being deployed in myriad ways to engage obese employees in wellness programs and offer them support.

Sprint has successfully engaged employees in a 12-week "biggest loser" challenge involving teams of employees across the nation who competed to see which team could lose the most weight. The results were impressive: Average individual weight loss was 8.4 pounds, and collectively, the teams shed 20 tons.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.