How healthy are you, really?

By , Posted on 24 January 2013

health insurance companies offer incentives to stay fitMost people need a prescription for better evaluating their own health, according to a new survey.

Nearly 90 percent of survey participants say their health is good, and less than 23 percent say they are overweight or obese. Yet 53 percent of those people who report being in good health actually have a body mass index (BMI) that puts them in the overweight or obese categories. These are some of the key findings of the "Consumer Health Mindset" survey conducted by human resources consulting firm Aon Hewitt. They interviewed 2,800 employees and their dependents who are covered by employer health plans.

I can't say that I'm surprised. It reminds me of when, about 10 years ago, I had an inkling I was packing on some extra pounds. It's hard not to notice if you have to buy clothes a size bigger and "nothing fits" the way you want. But the kicker was when I saw a picture of myself a friend had taken and was literally shocked at how heavy I looked. Clearly, the image of myself I had in my mind was not matching the reality of the situation. It prompted me to go on my first diet ever, and I had success. Of course the timing was all wrong. I was also trying to get pregnant, which I did, and well, since then it's been pretty much downhill on the exercising and diet front for me.

Fortunately, I'm not a CEO. "Executives with larger waistlines and higher body-mass-index readings tend to be perceived as less effective in the workplace, both in performance and interpersonal relationships, according to data compiled by the Center for Creative Leadership," reports the Wall Street Journal.

Regardless of your job title, employers have begun offering workers incentives to shape up. We first reported on this trend back in November of 2011, and it's now starting to become somewhat common practice. (See: "Take care or pay a higher share of your health insurance.")

Over one-half, or 58 percent, of employers surveyed by Aon Hewitt offer some form of incentive for completing lifestyle modification programs, for example, to quit smoking or lose weight. Additionally, about one-quarter of organizations report offering incentives (monetary or non-monetary) for making progress toward meeting acceptable ranges for biometric measures such as blood pressure, BMI, blood sugar and cholesterol. (See: "6 New Year's resolutions that  could lower your insurance rates.")

Does your employer offer similar programs? Have you had success with one? Let us know!

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Des Toups

Des Toups

Managing editor

Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's.


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