An eight-week group employee weight management program should focus on holistic health — including education and motivation around goal setting, nutrition, metabolism, sleep, stress, motivation for success and more.

Marathon Health coaches Jamie Leslie and Austen Gross both say managing weight is one of the No. 1 goals members have when visiting the employer health centers. This makes sense, considering more than 73% of adults age 20 or older are overweight or obese, according to CDC statistics.

With obesity related to so many other chronic conditions, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, it costs the U.S. healthcare system nearly $173 billion a year. Because employees spend a third of their day (or more) on the job, employers who want to both lower claims and positively impact employee lives should consider implementing a weight management program.

A current client with over 2,000 employees offered Marathon Health’s Weight Management program to their members last fall, with health coach Jamie Leslie as the instructor. “Because obesity is a leading underlying factor for so many chronic health conditions, and the Midwest leads the country in obesity percentages, we wanted to provide this support for our associates,” says an HR Communications Manager at the client. “We sincerely want our people to live their best lives.”

A Holistic Approach Key to Employee Weight Management Program

More than portion control and exercise, Marathon Health’s Employee Weight Management Program focuses on meeting participants where they are and teaching them the psychology behind decisions, and the impact lifestyle and behaviors have on whole health.

“When people think about weight loss, it does get really focused on exercise and nutrition,” says Gross, who helped design the program. “But when we start to talk about sleep and stress and all that weight loss entails, people start to realize maybe why they’ve struggled with weight in the past. When they do prioritize some of these different areas outside of nutrition and exercise, they see better results.”

Over eight weekly sessions, the Weight Management Program covers:

  • Goal-setting
  • Nutrition and metabolism
  • Physical activity and outcomes
  • Mindful eating
  • Stress and sleep
  • Controlling your environment
  • Motivation
  • Maintaining habits for success

Group meetings, similar to popular programs like WeightWatchers, offer a supportive, judgment-free environment for participants. “After the program, a participant shared with me how she just felt so supported and seemed overwhelmed that she could be in a group where other people were struggling with the same issues and not feel judged,” Leslie says.

Sustainable Results from a Weight Management Program for Employees

Over the 8-week pilot program, participants (17 total) collectively netted the following results:

  • Lost 90+ pounds
  • Lost 38.75 inches from body circumferences
  • Reported quality of life scores increased from an average score of 22.5 to 30.22
  • Average servings of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains increased from 4.6 to 6
  • Exercise increased from an average of 2.2 days per week to 3.11

And the odds of the new habits sticking around long-term are high, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which found employer-based wellness programs can help employees lose weight and keep it off on a long-term basis when workers are offered repeat or ongoing access to workplace weight loss programs.

“When we run a program, we always look for a way to incorporate more than education,” says Lauren Hutchens, National Director of Health Coaching at Marathon Health. “If someone wants to know how to lose weight, they can Google it. Our goal is to support patients in understanding how they can make the changes to support a healthy lifestyle that works for them. After the 8 weeks are up, we show them how Marathon Health can continue to support them beyond the initial program.”

Upon completion of the Weight Management program, participants are encouraged to continue one-on-one sessions with their Marathon Health coaches and repeat biometric screenings every 6 months to continue their progress.

“Health coach Jamie Leslie opened our eyes to facts about nutrition and sleep, and how these — along with so many other aspects of how we take care of ourselves — impact our health and weight,” says the HR Manager, who participated in the program themselves. “The weekly sessions were relevant and helpful to reinforce the information shared, applying it to our own lives and investing in our own health. We would love to offer this program again.”

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