How to Support Your Employees Struggling to Lose Weight

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

 
Senior Health Science Associate
Orexigen
 

Losing weight and keeping it off is not easy. Many people who struggle with weight experience ups and downs, as they try different diet and exercise plans that either don't work or cannot be maintained. This struggle can be filled with frustration and feelings of failure. Patients may blame themselves for having a lack of willpower or discipline to lose weight; however for some patients, diet and exercise alone may not be enough to lose weight and keep it off. The fact is – obesity isn’t a lifestyle choice, it has been defined as a disease by several professional healthcare societies, including the American Medical Association. 

We at Orexigen Therapeutics® are very familiar with this disease as our global focus is on developing medicines for patients struggling with their weight. We are dedicated to mitigating obesity and are looking to the employer community to help us support their members who are struggling to achieve their weight loss goals. To that end, there are four important points that employers may want to consider to help their employees/patients:

 
Obesity is a rapidly growing global health epidemic: Obesity is a reality for most Americans and there is no end in sight. By 2030, the percentage of Americans who struggle with obesity could reach 51 percent, underscoring the need for effective treatment regimens today.(i)
 
Obesity remains undertreated, particularly when compared to other diseases: About 110 million adults in the US meet recommendations for anti-obesity pharmacotherapy; however, only 3% of those adults are being treated with a prescription weight loss therapy.(ii) This is a large difference compared to the 8.4% of US adults with type 2 diabetes, of which 86% receiving pharmacotherapy treatment.(iii)
 
Considering the costs associated with obesity is an important factor when making health care benefit decisions: Obesity has broad consequences from an employer perspective, including(iv)
Decreased work productivity, costing employers $73 Billion annually
Increased presenteeism & absenteeism, costing $766 per employee struggling with obesity annually
 
Branded obesity medications can be an effective treatment for those struggling to lose or maintain weight, in addition to diet and exercise: There are several reasons why(v):
Pharmacotherapy is part of many professional guidelines to treat obesity.(vi)
These branded anti-obesity medications may only be made available through your pharmacy benefit coverage when you elect an obesity rider as part of your annual health benefits selection process.
It is important to remember that even modest reductions in weight loss can result in significant health benefits and savings to patients, employers, and the healthcare system.
 
As you review your annual health benefits package, please consider adopting an obesity benefit rider, which provides employees with the opportunity to help their struggle with obesity today. The inclusion of prescription oral obesity medications as a new solution for employees may positively reduce your costs and improve your employees’ overall health and productivity.
 

(i) http://obesitycampaign.org/obesity_facts.asp Trust for America's Health F as in Fat How Obesity Threatens America's Future
(ii) Thomas CE et al. Obesity. 2016;24:1955-1961; Patients with BMI of 30+, BMI 27-29 with co-morbidities. Orexigen Segmentation Research based on CDC data. National Center for Health Statistics: Obesity/Overweight. 2015. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm. Accessed on December 27, 2016
(iii) Thomas CE et al. Obesity. 2016;24:1955-1961
(iv) J Occup Environ Med. 2010 Oct;52(10):971-6; J Occup Environ Med. 2014 Nov;56(11):1120-7; State of Obesity 
(v) Thomas CE et al. Obesity. 2016;24:1955-1961.
(vi) American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) - Diagnosis and Management of Obesity monograph (2013)
American Heart Association (AHA)/American College of Cardiology (ACC)/The Obesity Society (TOS) - Guideline for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults (2014)
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE)/American College of Endocrinology (ACE) - Diagnostic Algorithm for the Disease of Obesity (updated 2016)
Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) - Obesity Algorithm (updated 2016) 
The Endocrine Society - Pharmacologic Management of Obesity: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline (2015) 
 
Tom Eastep, Senior Health Science Associate, Orexigen 6/7/2017

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