Almost Half of Workplaces Offer Health, Wellness Programs: CDC

Almost half of all U.S. workplaces offered some kind of health or wellness program in 2017, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Almost half of all U.S. workplaces offered some kind of health or wellness program in 2017, according to a new study published April 22 in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The study, "Workplace Health in America 2017," was the first government survey of workplace health promotion programs in 13 years. The survey provides an update on health and safety programs and strategies and their use in the workplace. The strategies include health promotion strategies, health benefits design, and physical changes to the work environment.

"More than 156 million full-time workers in the U.S. spend most of their daily waking hours in the workplace, providing employers with an important opportunity to foster a healthy and safe work environment," CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield, M.D., said. "It is encouraging to see a growing number of work sites developing and promoting a culture of health for employees."

For this study, CDC and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health surveyed almost 3,000 diverse workplaces about their health promotion programs and policies. The workplaces included for-profit, nonprofit, and government work sites of all industry sectors and sizes across the United States. The previous survey, from 2004, looked only at non-governmental workplaces and only those with 50 or more employees.

The survey had a high proportion of small employers, as 77.1 percent of respondents had fewer than 100 employees. More than 90 percent of all employers nationwide are small employers.

Across the United States, almost 30 percent of workplaces offered some kind of program to address physical activity, fitness, or sedentary behavior. About 19 percent of work sites offered a program to help workers stop using tobacco products and about 17 percent offered a program related to obesity or weight management. In addition, 20 percent of work sites offered programs addressing stress management and 14 percent had programs to address excessive alcohol and other drug misuse.

The study also found that the percentage of work sites with a health promotion program increased with the size of the employer, ranging from 39 percent of sites with 10-24 workers to 60 percent of work sites with 50-99 workers, to 92 percent of workplaces with 500 or more workers.

"The study shows the opportunity to continue to increase workplace health promotion programs among small employers across the U.S.," said Jason Lang, MPH, M.S., co-author of the report and lead for CDC's Workplace Health Program, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "Preventable health conditions such as obesity and heart disease can be improved through effective and comprehensive workplace health promotion and disease prevention programs."

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