Workforce Weight-Loss: Companies Challenge Each Other with Cash-Driven Diet Competitions to Battle the Bulge + Boost Bottom Lines

It may seem random but good health is critical to small business and corporate bottom lines. If employees — whether full or part time– are not well, there is a gap in workforce that directly impacts the bottom line. By encouraging employees with health care plans, subsidies for health-care and bonuses to keep employees on the trim side of things, there can be less

Companies Compete Head–to-Head Corporate America Competes to Improve Employee Health, to Battle the Bulge + Boost Bottom Lines!
By Merilee Kern


The glut of U.S. workers contending with obesity and other chronic health troubles is costing companies more than $153 billion annually in lost productivity from absenteeism, alone—a situation exacerbated by even more staggering productivity loss from the four-times more detrimental “presenteeism.”
(see quotes from Gallup Poll below to explain the what “presenteeism” is.

Statistics from Gallup Poll

Full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions miss an estimated 450 million additional days of work each year compared with healthy workers — resulting in an estimated cost of more than $153 billion in lost productivity annually.

The $153 billion in annual lost productivity costs linked to unhealthy workers in the United States is more than four times the cost found in the United Kingdom. The striking difference is the result of fewer unhealthy workers in the U.K. About 14% of full-time U.S. workers are of a normal weight and have no chronic illness, compared with 20% in the U.K.

The $153 billion in lost productivity estimated in this analysis would increase if it included presenteeism, which is when employees go to work but are less productive in their jobs because of poor health or wellbeing. Including part-time employees would also add to the estimate of costs in lost productivity. Other research that has examined a broader array of factors using a somewhat different list of chronic conditions places the economic effect of lost productivity at $1.1 trillion per year

In seeking an effective solution to the problem, Corporate America has turned to innovative, outside-the-box competition-driven weight loss programs, like that offered by the industry-leading purveyor, to better encourage employee groups to battle the bulge, realize greater success with their diet and fitness endeavor, and win financial rewards in kind. works with hospitals, health systems, insurers, school systems, municipal governments and companie who seek to leverage the spirit of competition and cash rewards to improve staff wellness, more effectively compel men to lose weight, and, in promoting these organization-wide behavioral changes, boost their own bottom lines. Some of the corporate entities include General Electric, Oracle, Halliburton, and even the Houston Independent School District (HISD) as well as many others.

To date, reports that it has executed its popular $10,000 Team Weight Loss Challenge and/or other of its novel “money motivation” diet and fitness programs, each as described below, for over 800 client organizations throughout the United States that collectively employ more than three million employees.

“This past year we’ve seen a trend of companies looking to compete against each other in weight loss challenges to better engage and excite the staff and, ultimately, more successfully achieve health and overriding fiscal program goals,” said David Roddenberry, CEO of “The movement to compete against other organizations reflects the next trend in engaging employees in health and wellness initiatives.”

The following are examples of the the HealthyWage Company vs. Company weight challenges scheduled that were to start in January 2015

Energy Industry Challenge: Company vs. Company challenge for energy companies. Companies participating include Phillips 66, and ConocoPhillips

Wisconsin Health System Challenge: Challenge among health systems in Wisconsin, including Aurora Healthcare, Beaver Dam Community Hospital and Holy Family Memorial Hospital

Get Lean in 2015, Savannah weight challenge: Challenge among companies based in Savannah, GA

For its part, in 2015 the Houston Independent School District (HISD) is rolling out its second HealthyWage-driven weight-loss challenge on the heels of the success realized with its 2014 diet competition initiative. The upcoming HISD program will offer staffers “4 for $40,” paying employees $40 if they lose at least 4 pounds a month over a 4-month period—a $160 top-end payout to those who lose the minimum 16-pound benchmark in safe and healthy 4 pound-per-month increments.

The Money Motivation Paradigm

HealthyWage currently offers two distinct cash rewards-based diet programs that pay participants to successfully make healthy choices. With the HealthyWager, program dieters select
1) how much weight they want to lose;
2) how much money they want to invest;
3) how many months they want to lose weight.

HealthyWage’s proprietary algorithm then tailors each player’s personalized weight loss wager to assure those most in need can benefit from a more lucrative financial incentive intended to help motivate, sustain and aptly reward the weight loss effort. The program proffers the best prize-to-bet ratios for players who are most in need of weight loss. Players can opt for prizes ranging from as little as $100 to as much as $10,000, and can choose weight loss goals as little as 10% and as much as 25% of their starting weight. Players may also choose the timeframe for achieving their goal–as little as 6 months to as long as 18 months.

In the $10,000 Team Weight Loss Challenge, participants compete in in teams of 5 for the greatest percentage of weight loss over a 3-month period. Each participant pays a $75 registration fee. The rules discourage unhealthful tactics by limiting the 12-week weight loss to 16.59 percent of starting body weight. In order to participate in either challenge, players must provide two weight verifications–one at the beginning of their challenge, and one at the end–using one of 2 available methods:
(1) participants may use HealthyWage’s Video Verification System
or (2) they can visit their own doctor or one of HealthyWage’s professional partners—more than 5,000 health club, pharmacy and medical professionals that have a demonstrated interest in finding innovative and effective weight loss solutions such as that HealthyWage provides.

“Large and small companies are utilizing our cash-fueled competitions, which is no surprise given multiple highly credible studies underscore the value of employing financial incentives and peer support to motivate weight loss,” Roddenberry notes. “Our various tailored monetary incentive and team-based weight loss programs are helping employee groups get fit and healthy using a unique and proven effective motivation paradigm while concurrently helping organizations significantly stem staff health-related losses.”


April 2012 Gallup-Healthways study:

Milken Institute:

Employee Benefits News:

What are your thoughts about this information? Would you participate in a company-sponsored health initiative to become be active on a regular basis, positive moves like eating healthier and monitoring

Freelance writer Merilee Kern is a wellness industry veteran, consumer health advocate and influential media voice. She may be reached online at

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