recent study conducted by NIH at Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center highlights the role of a health coach when it comes to weight loss and behavior change. While comprehensive employee wellness programs can boost awareness of potential health risks for individuals and offer workers opportunities to adopt healthier behaviors during the workday, true change is often only reached when employees have a cheerleader, a motivator, a health coach encouraging them to set goals and achieve them.
The research team found that while professional health coaches were the most successful at promoting weight loss, peer coaching (also know as "lay" coaching - fellow employees or friends) had a comparable effect. A coach, regardless of clinical background, holds an individual accountable for behavior and provides advice and motivation to help people live healthier lives. This is an exciting finding because it suggests a low cost approach to obesity prevention can be as successful at encouraging well-being as pricier alternatives.
When compared with other popular treatment options, coaching is one of the least intensive, lowest cost, and most effective ways to motivate weight loss and improve health. For companies, the ROI of coaching is the most valuable benefit of all. If a coach can help even a single employee lose weight, it could potentially save a company thousands of dollars in medical costs over time.
Although weight loss is not always the primary goal of a coaching program, every organization should prioritize the overall health and well-being of its workers. This NIH study effectively illustrates the success of health coaching programs as a tool for health improvement and company return on investment.