- The Find: Obesity costs U.S. companies up to $45 billion annually, according to the latest research, but expensive corporate wellness programs don't necessarily mitigate the costs.
Taken together with the$45 billion a year price tag from The Conference Board, the numbers could alarm even the least health-conscious manager, but both studies warn against over-reacting. The Conference Board looked at wellness programs, for example, and found that the ROI on $1 invested varied from $0 up to $5. Managers shouldn't rush to institute health incentives, as a well thought out program is key to maximizing return. There are potential discrimination risks involved and successful programs often are designed with employee input rather than top-down decrees to get in shape. The researchers also found evidence that simply giving prizes or rewards for shedding pounds might be more cost effective than investing in a long-term wellness scheme.