Next week kicks off National Childhood Obesity Month. As a growing health concern, solving childhood obesity demands a collaborative approach in which families, schools and, yes, employers each play an important role. Health Action Council and our members believe that in order to sustain healthy businesses, healthy employees and the health of the communities in which our businesses reside, it is critical that we also focus on the health of our future workforce, especially those who are now in school.
The national childhood obesity rate has risen drastically over the past 39 years. Today, one in three children are overweight or obese. The effect of this trend is felt throughout communities, and the associated costs incurred go beyond dollars. It’s a distressing epidemic, but one that will grow only the extent we allow.
Overweight and obese children require medical care more often than normal-weight children. Treating issues brought on by obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and joint problems incur significant cost. In addition, parents often find themselves pulled away from work to deal with their children’s care.
And even while at work, many parents have to balance work responsibilities with working through claims, scheduling doctor visits and struggling with increased stress and anxiety that comes with guiding a child through health complications.
As with similar issues of this magnitude, the best solutions begin at home. Still, employers have the power to help drive change. For example, through the Healthy Schools Program, Health Action Council is working with schools to create healthier environments that improve wellness and academic performance to promote a healthy, productive workforce. Given that employers often cover dependents and invest in worksite wellness programs for employees, the Healthy Schools framework provides an excellent opportunity for employer engagement that aligns with corporate goals.
HELP STEM THE TIDE
So we are really talking about a virtuous circle. Healthy schools mean healthy and productive future employees, which means thriving businesses. If you want to learn more about how your organization can get involved with the Healthy Schools Program, or for more information on becoming a member, call Kevin Gregory at 216.236.0379, or email Kevin at [email protected].