What has recently cost Texas businesses more than $9.5 billion in the past year—a number that has nearly tripled since 2007? The answer may surprise you: obesity.

A recent report from Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, shows that between “health insurance costs, absenteeism, reduced work productivity, and disability,” businesses are paying the price—a high one, as a result of the obesity epidemic.

IS THERE A SOLUTION?

According to “Gaining Costs, Losing Time,” the Comptroller report that studies obesity and its effects on business’ pockets, wellness programs in the workplace are proving extremely effective. In fact, the American Heart Association estimates that for every $1 invested in worksite wellness, companies can receive up to $3 in return.

While businesses are taking the hit from obesity in the bank, their employees suffering from obesity are taking the hit on their hearts. Obesity is a leading risk factor for heart disease, the number one killer for both men and women.

The American Heart Association encourages companies of all size sto become Fit Friendly—by instilling wellness incentives, providing healthy snack options in the break room, implementing stricter smoking policies on work property and more.

Another way companies are beating the bulge is by taking part in team-building events such as annual American Heart Association Heart Walks throughout the country. The noncompetitive 5K walk/run provides a fun atmosphere with a serious cause—to fight cardiovascular diseases that claim a life every 38 seconds. Companies that get involved not only take part in a life saving event but also take strides in the direction of overall wellness.

If all trends continue and no preventative actions are taken, the cost of obesity is expected to triple by 2030. Don’t let obesity get hold of your company’s credit card—take the lead and encourage employees to strap on their walking shoes to take a step in the right direction.

By Caitlin Martone,

American Heart Association