Wellness & Prevention Inc. Study Finds Binge Eating Significantly Impacts Employee Work Productivity

Ann Arbor, MICH. — June 6, 2012 — Wellness & Prevention, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, announced that a study published in the April issue in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found significant associations between binge eating and work productivity impairment. Binge eating, defined as overeating combined with a sense of loss of control, is a major contributor to obesity. Based on the study data, researchers estimated, for a company of 1,000 employees, an annual productivity loss of $107,965.00 due to binge eating. The results demonstrate that efforts to reduce productivity impairment should target binge eating as a modifiable risk behavior.

The study, conducted by Wellness & Prevention, Inc., evaluated HealthMedia® Succeed® Health Risk Assessment (HRA) responses of 46,818 adult employees. Health care plans and employers deployed the HRA questionnaires to their employees as part of their population health offerings and/or health benefit structure.

While binge eating remains an underreported health risk behavior — possibly due to the stigma associated with overeating — many studies indicate that individuals may be more likely to disclose this type of behavior in a computer-based health risk assessment than in a face-to-face or written assessment.

Researchers found that 9.4 percent of the employees in the study reported binge eating. Frequent binge eating was the third highest health risk associated with excess productivity impairment, while depression and stress were the top two associated risks. Additionally, the findings showed that binge eating was significantly more common among obese employees (17.8 percent) than among non-obese employees (5.5 percent).

An increasingly obese workforce has many cost implications for employers, including the indirect costs that result from decreased employee work productivity, as well as the direct costs from increased utilization of health care services by employees. The health implications for obese individuals are numerous as well: increased potential for chronic illness, disability, elevated health care costs, decreased earning potential, shortened life expectancy, and a diminished quality of life.

“These findings suggest that efforts to improve the health, productivity, and performance of employee populations should include routine screenings and interventions for binge eating behavior,” said Richard Bedrosian, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral Health and Solution Development at Wellness & Prevention, Inc. “The inclusion of questions about binge eating in HRAs can be a valuable tool for identifying individuals who binge eat, and who may not otherwise seek help for this health risk behavior.”

About Wellness & Prevention, Inc.
Wellness & Prevention, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, helps organizations renew the health, energy, and performance of their employees and members, and offers an integrated portfolio of solutions to cover the full spectrum of population health — from wellness and prevention, to behavioral health, to chronic disease support. These solutions include culture of health assessments and programs, on-site health screenings, Energy for Performance training, health risk assessments, user portals, incentive solutions, Digital Health Coaching, telephonic coaching, on-site health coaching, participation and engagement strategies and programs, outcomes reporting, and data analytics. Wellness & Prevention solutions are supported by a unique, integrated, and scalable approach designed to help lower health care costs, drive business performance, and enhance employee satisfaction and success. For more information, visit www.wellnessandpreventioninc.com.