Poor health habits costing employers billions

Published 1:13 pm Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our poor health habits are killing many of us.

At the same time, they are costing the businesses we work for serious money in lost productivity and profitability.

That’s the message members of the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce heard Wednesday at the organization’s monthly luncheon at the Pelham Civic Center.

While chamber members finished their Bourbon Pecan Pie desserts, Dr. Joshua C. Klapow, a psychologist at the University of Alabama Birmingham, said the cost of obesity on the American economy is $93 billion a year.

Klapow, the author of “Living SMART: 5 Essential Skills to Change Your Health Habits Forever,” also hosts a health segment for the local television station ABC 33/40.

“In fact, it would be better if it was just killing us,” Klapow said. “But it’s making us sick, though we’re not dying, at least not quickly.”

He said if Americans could find a way to manage the obesity problem, we would take care of about three-quarters of the remaining American health problems, like heart attacks and diabetes.

Klapow said Alabamians have the highest rate of diabetes in the country and 61 percent of Alabamians are overweight or obese.

Further, he said 40 percent of early deaths can be prevented by changing behavior, “but nothing about changing behavior is easy.”

As it relates to the business community, Klapow said using the principles of behaviorial science can help create and maintain organizational change.

Those principles follow the acronyn SMART.

Set a goal

Monitor progress

Arrange your world for success

Recruit a support team

and Treat yourself.

For more information, see Klapow’s Web site, www.drjoshk.com.