Is obesity part of YOUR office?

One of the major factors in health today is weight. Obesity affects more than 50 million adults and 16-33% of all children and adolescents. In just the last 40 years, the problem has increased by 300%. Chiropractors are increasingly being asked to address that issue in their patients, even if it’s simply providing health education.

Sadly, many chiropractic office staff members are overweight or obese, and there are even a number of DCs who fall into that category.

The problem is a common one in the medical field as well. A 2008 report in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, pointed out that “even a casual examination shows that many nurses themselves are overweight or obese.” In fact, a study of a random selection of nurses and nurse practitioners from each of six geographic regions in the US found that 30% of respondents had an overweight body mass index (BMI), 18.7% an obese BMI, and 5.2% a morbidly obese BMI. In other words – almost 54% of the nurse respondents were overweight or obese.

That brings up an important consideration. Is it possible for an overweight or obese health care professional to be effective in promoting health practices, or educating patients about health, when they don’t provide an example for patients? Isn’t that like having a cigarette smoker teaching patients about the dangers of second-hand smoke?

I’m definitely NOT suggesting you fire a staff member for being overweight. CAs, receptionists, front and back end staffers can all be extremely competent and assets to a practice. Yet, we need to provide those staff members with the same level of health education, counseling and assistance we give our patients.

Not only will eliminating the obesity level of all team members help set a better example for patients, it’ll help improve the bottom line of office profits.

The Calorie Control Council (yes, there really is a council with that name!) came out with a report late last year that concluded: “A healthy staff is good for business… A recent study put the health care costs of obesity-related diseases at $147 billion per year, which can put a heavy price on employers covering paid sick leave and insurance policies.”

According to a 2010 MetLife survey, more than one-third of employers now offer wellness programs, up from just over a quarter in 2005. Among the larger employers – those with 500 or more employees — 61% now offer a wellness program.

Obviously, DCs are in an ideal situation to provide wellness programs to their employees. Just make sure your malpractice insurance policy covers free care you give to staffers.

The trend toward corporate wellness programs also opens the door for many chiropractors to market their services to local companies. Being a wellness professional has tremendous financial and health advantages over MDs, and approaching companies equipped with information on chiropractic’s impact on well being can be a first step in getting your foot into the corporate front door.

(As an aside, you might also look into subscribing to Integrative Outcome Measurements – it can be a powerful marketing tool. In addition to your services, you can offer all employees in a company a free Wellness Evaluation that can provide them with detailed information on their level of overall wellness and of four major components of health: physical, mental/emotional, stress and life enjoyment. It gives you the competitive edge over other DCs looking to work with a company).

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