Polk Wellness Coalition recognizes local worksites that encourage health

Published 3:32 pm Monday, September 20, 2010

Two-thirds of North Carolinas preventable deaths are related to tobacco, nutrition, and physical activity. In North Carolina, 95.9 percent of adults have at least one of these risky behaviors, while 39.1 percent have all three.

Tobacco use, poor nutrition, physical inactivity contribute to heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, lung disease, osteoporosis, low birth weight, neural tube defects, SIDS, asthma, and joint and back problems. These behaviors lead to nearly 200,000 hospitalizations and 35,000 deaths in North Carolina per year.

It makes good business sense for employers to invest in preventive health and wellness for their employees. Obesity, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and tobacco-related illness costs N.C. employers an average of $5,000 per employee per year these issues lead to chronic disease resulting in absenteeism and escalating health care costs for employers. Most preventable diseases result from physical inactivity, poor nutrition (35 percent) or tobacco (37 percent) use.

Members of the Polk County Wellness Coalition are working together for a healthy Polk County and want to recognize what some of their health coalition members are doing to make employees workday experience healthier. Polk County offers the opportunity for employees to join a health and fitness center with discounted prices to the employee.

Wellness Coalition member Josh King, planner with Isothermal Regional Planning Commission, says that their worksite has organized a wellness committee.&bsp; They sell fruit juices and water for $.40 which is less than the soda machine ($.75). Low fat/low calorie snacks are available for less than vending machine options. They have removed most of the high calorie snacks from their vending machine.

They also formed an agreement to have fresh fruits and vegetables available at all IPDC events. They have a walk leave policy if you walk one mile a day during your lunch you get 15 minutes of walk leave. They have also completed two biggest loser style weight loss groups.

Western Carolina Community Action is offering special programming to all its employees which includes enhances services for those who smoke, have diabetes, and high cholesterol.

The Polk County Wellness Coalition would like to hear what your employer is doing to make your work environment a healthier place. Or if you are interested in learning more about changes you can make for a healthier worksite, call Mary Smith, health educator at 828-925-0140 or email her at msmith@rpmhd.org.