If you receive our employer newsletter, Wellness in the Workplace, you know we’re promoting what we call “viral wellness.” All side effects are positive, and you don’t need (or want) a “cure.” We know illness is contagious, and studies have shown that obesity / overweight could be considered contagious since among families and groups of overweight or obese friends it becomes “normalized.” Therefore—contagious. The benefits of wellness too are contagious, reflected in healthier lifestyles, and for employers, healthier profits.
It takes time to build a culture of wellness. It happens over time, person by person, family by family, employee by employee. That's what viral wellness is about. But, first you have to catch it—really get it.
An estimated 30 to 45 percent of medical claims today are directly attributable to lifestyle choices such as obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, and physical inactivity. It is also the largest contributing factor to a number of chronic diseases, which contribute to 57 percent of all deaths annually in the U.S. In fact, obesity is now more costly to U.S. companies than smoking or alcoholism.
We know most of us want to be well, and if we have a reasonable expectation of success, we will make positive changes in our daily choices. Once we prove to ourselves we can be successful, we become enthusiastic advocates for the strategy that helped us meet our goals. And this is how 'viral wellness' spreads, not only within an organization but to family, friends and the community.
So, here’s wishing we all catch an incurable case of wellness and that it becomes an international pandemic.