Posts Tagged ‘Body Mass Index’

Employee Wellness Standards Locked In

June 11th, 2013

The Fed’s issued their final regulations for worksite wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act this week.  The final rules are designed to incentivize workplaces to develop and execute health promotion programs.  The goal is to improve health and wellness among workers and to limit growth of health care costs moving forward. 

The regulations outline standards what they call “health-contingent wellness programs” which basically reward employees who meet a specific standard related to their health.  For example…  worksite wellness programs could provide a reward to folks who don’t smoke (or that decrease their use of tobacco).  Employers can also reward those who achieve a health-related goal like a specified cholesterol level, weight, or body mass index. 

The rules also include what they call “participatory wellness programs”.  These are programs that reimburse for the cost of membership at a gym, that provide a reward to employees for attending health education seminars or that reward employees who complete a health risk assessment.  The final rules will be effective for health “plan years” beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014.  Here’s the link to the “inside baseball” regulations in the Federal Register.

Diabetes Awareness

February 22nd, 2011

More than 10% of Arizonans have diabetes.  But what’s even more alarming are the recent estimate by the CDC that about 1.5 million Arizonans (25%) have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes.  Pre-diabetes significantly raises a person’s risk of Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

To see if you’re at risk, visit and click on the “Arizona Diabetes Program,” and then select the “Are You at Risk ?” button, which will direct you to our online risk assessment tool.  There’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk of getting diabetes, including eating healthy and exercising.  In fact, losing weight is a great way to reduce your risk as well – losing just 5% of total body weight can reduce a person’s risk.  For a 200 lb. person, that means they’d need to lose less than 15 lbs.

Statewide, the YMCA offers diabetes an evidence-based education and prevention program that’s open to adults who have a diagnosis of pre-diabetes or who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) at or over 25 (a risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes). For more information about diabetes, including Diabetes Self-Management classes, contact the Arizona Diabetes Program at

Body Mass Index – the Future Leading Health Indicator?

December 24th, 2010

Every year that goes by brings more solid information suggesting that the body mass index (BMI) may become the future leading health indicator. If you’re wondering what BMI is; it’s your weight in kilograms (Kg) divided by the square of your height in meters (m2).  There’s solid evidence that BMIs in the upper 20s and higher are associated with a host of medical problems, many of them serious.  The main risks are increased mortality from cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, but also a host of other conditions like diabetes.

A new study published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine<> looked at the bottom line, how increasing BMI results in death (in the epidemiology world called total mortality).  In the study researchers used a “reference group” of people with healthy BMIs (between 22.5 and 25) and compared them to people with higher and lower BMIs.  They found what you’d expect, that people with really low and really high BMIs had a higher risk of dying early.  Even being moderately overweight turns out to be a risk.  For example, BMIs between 25 and 30 had a 44% increased risk of death.  BMIs between 30 and 35 had an 88% increased risk of dying.  It gets worse after that.  BMIs between 40 and 50 were at almost 240% higher risk.  These percentages are based on the ”hazard ratios” that the researchers describe in the paper.  I’ve oversimplified in the paragraph above, so if you’re an epi, you better go straight to the source.

Their conclusion was that “overweight and obesity (and possibly underweight) are associated with increased all-cause mortality. All-cause mortality is generally lowest with a BMI of 20.0 to 24.9.”  Translation: try to maintain a healthy weight if you want to live longer.  There is an easy to use BMI calculator on the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s website.