National healthcare spending rose 5.3% in 2014, 5.8% in 2015, and shows no signs of slowing. Total healthcare spending is projected to rise to 20% of the total economy by 2025.
This continued rise is bad news both for individuals and for their employers. As costs continue to skyrocket, businesses face a difficult choice: Either take on the increased expenditure, or force their employees to shoulder the burden. Neither is an attractive option.
This dilemma has encouraged more businesses to explore a third path: prevention. Employee wellness programs seek to lower health spending by keeping employees healthy through promotion of active lifestyles, tobacco cessation assistance, and more. But some plans are lacking a key component.
Nutrition Must Be a Primary Focus in Employee Wellness Plans
Many wellness programs fail to focus on employee nutrition in a holistic, meaningful way. Nutrition plays a central role in overall health and wellness, but too often it’s relegated to the sidelines of employee wellness plans.
The following statistics make it clear that for employees and employers to get the most benefit out of employee wellness plans, nutrition must be a primary focus.
- Diet is the number one factor impacting health status, topping even tobacco-related risks. (Journal of the American Medical Association (Institute for Health Metrics))
- Poor nutrition has roughly three times the impact on health status as low to no fitness. (Institute for Health Metrics)
- Poor nutrition directly correlates to the three biggest health epidemics in America: obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. (Health & Human Services)
- Nearly half of all deaths from heart disease, stroke and diabetes are linked to poor diet. (JAMA)
- 75% of healthcare spending goes to treating chronic diseases, most of which are diet-related. (CDC)
- Loss of productivity due to chronic diseases cost businesses $260 billion annually. (CDC)
- 91% of prescriptions filled are attributable to chronic diseases. (Zipongo)
- 80% of Americans fail to eat recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables. (CDC)
- The average American diet exceeds the daily recommended intake of sugar, refined grains, sodium and saturated fats. (USDA)
- About 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. (CDC)
- Reducing the sodium Americans eat by 1,200mg per day on could save up to $20 billion a year in medical costs. (CDC)
- Obesity alone accounts for 39 million lost workdays per year. (MN Department of Health)
- People make an average of 226 food decisions daily. (Zipongo)
- The World Health Organization estimates 80% of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented by diet and lifestyle changes. (WHO)
- A 1% reduction in excess weight and high blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels can save $83-$103 annually per person. (CDC)
- The average ROI of a comprehensive corporate wellness program is $3.30 for every dollar spent. (Health Affairs Journal)
- 69% of employees are interested in nutrition programs, but only 43% of employers offer them. (Rival Health)
Corporate nutrition programs are a major piece of the puzzle of reducing healthcare costs. But it takes more than an annual health assessment or a one-off weight loss competition to inspire lasting change in eating habits. Employees need tools to help make healthy options just as cheap, easy, and satisfying to eat as their less-healthy alternatives. The right nutrition solution can help create healthy eating habits that last, whether employees are in the office, at home, or on the go.
Zipongo is a comprehensive digital nutrition solution that works with employers and health plans to provide personalized dietary recommendations. With Zipongo, healthy eating is simple, low-cost, and, yes, delicious.
Download our latest white paper, Nutrition is Key to Reining in Employer Health Costs, to learn more.