By: Darlene Marafino – Manager, Account Services and Wellness, Independent Health
Due to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Americans are cooking less and eating more pre-made meals than ever before. Meals eaten away from home tend to be less healthy and higher in saturated fats, refined sugar, and sodium than those prepared at home.
Poor eating habits and lifestyle choices are key factors to the obesity epidemic that is afflicting almost 40 percent of American adults. Since most adults spend more than half of their waking hours at work and eat at least one major meal during work hours, employers have the unique opportunity to help improve the overall nutrition and health of their employees. In fact, it may be in their best interest to do so.
- Eating food considered non-nutritious during the work day has been tied to difficulty concentrating and making decisions, fatigue and illness.
- According to the Federal Occupational Health agency, an overweight employee can cost an employer $450 to $2,500 more per year in medical expenses and absences.
Employers that invest in actively promoting healthy eating habits may experience greater employee output and less absenteeism. To address this health issue, many companies and businesses have begun to implement programs and provide tools and resources that help their employees make healthier nutritional choices.
At Independent Health, we’ve taken advantage of technology through a free digital nutrition platform called Zipongo®. This innovative resource, which also includes a smartphone app, is available to all members of our employer groups.
Zipongo helps individuals select, purchase and prepare healthy foods by providing easy access to recipes and meal plans personalized to each user’s tastes, dietary preferences, restrictions and medical needs, including recommendations for quick and healthy meals.
Users also have access to a comprehensive set of recipe and nutrition information, drag-and-drop meal planners, smart grocery lists, and discounts and grocery ordering options on high quality foods at local and regional grocery chains, including Tops, Wegmans, Dash’s Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Save-a-Lot.
While food may not be the sole answer to creating a culture of health, a healthy diet is the foundation for better personal health and a healthier community. And employers can play an important role in helping lay this foundation.
Disclaimer: The above commentary entails the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.