Some of the statistics are downright frightening. "Babies born to obese women are nearly three times as likely to die within the first month of birth than women of normal weight," the article reports. One study claims that "two out of three maternal deaths in New York State from 2003 to 2005 were associated with maternal obesity."
In the face of such tragedy, it may seem cold-hearted to think about money. But the reality is, providing high-quality care to an obese mother simply costs more. The Times article tells the story of a woman whose weight made pregnancy a life-threatening experience. She ultimately gave birth prematurely, and the hospital estimated that the final bill for her and her newborn could reach as much as $200,000. A typical delivery costs about $13,000.
What does all this have to do with employee wellness programs?
Some time ago, PBS aired a special on health care called Sick Around America. (You can watch the entire program online.) A representative of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health care think tank, said that their own insurance premiums -- for Kaiser's own employees -- skyrocketed after only one very expensive childbirth.
Many people think that corporate wellness programs address only long-term health problems: heart disease, diabetes, and the like. While preventing these conditions is important, obesity can have a tremendous impact on a company's bottom line today -- not just years from now. It can turn a routine condition into something life-threatening.
All the more reason to make wellness an integral part of your corporate culture. Don't you agree?