Dec 09, 2016 « Back to The Skinny
The Naturally Slim program, offered by ACAP Health, creates significant reduction in employee hypertension through weight loss
Currently, average healthcare costs associated with obese individuals are more than double compared to an individual with a normal body mass index. As the nation continues to see increased healthcare costs associated with obesity, the Naturally Slim program, offered by ACAP Health, offers a solution. Today marks the release of a study conducted by Dr. Conrad Earnest, research scientist at Texas A&M University, and Dr. Tim Church, chief medical officer of ACAP Health Consulting, that directly demonstrates the positive effect of weight loss on hypertension (high blood pressure).
The study was aimed at specifically targeting the relationship between a voluntary, online, employer-sponsored weight loss program (Naturally Slim) and blood pressure. Naturally Slim is comprised of weekly lessons viewed online over a 10-week period, along with other web-based resources, that teach behavioral skills focused on mindful eating and understanding hunger signals to help participants develop lifelong habits to reduce weight and improve health, rather than just sticking to a diet.
“Our goal is long-term quality of life following the weight loss program,” said Dr. Church. “High blood pressure is considered one of the most powerful predictors of future healthcare complications and costs. If not addressed, individuals run the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and even death.”
The study sample included 5,998 employees ranging in age from 20 to 65 years, from 93 different employers. All participants completed a baseline risk factor screening as well as a follow-up screening within 20 weeks of the program start.
“We found that 50% of those losing 5 percent or more of their body weight no longer presented with high blood pressure,” continued Dr. Church. “And, in this study of nearly 6,000 participants, 47% of males and 42% of females achieved weight loss of 5% at just 20 weeks, demonstrating that Naturally Slim can lead to substantial reductions in the prevalence of hypertension among employees.”
The study also demonstrated that even those with less weight loss still reduced the likelihood of having high blood pressure at follow-up and therefore, shouldn’t be ignored as these participants are seen as progressing towards better health.
Overall, this study adds to the established literature that demonstrates that companies that offer evidence-based weight loss initiatives aimed at risk factor reduction, including blood pressure, have great potential to lessen the financial healthcare burden within the workplace. By delivering the intervention digitally, online behavioral counseling programs like Naturally Slim can reach hundreds of thousands of employees at risk for obesity-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Church leads ACAP Health in clinical innovation and the design and delivery of scalable, clinical wellness programs and strategies that lower healthcare costs for employers. Church is one of the country’s leading physicians in exercise and obesity research and is an adjunct professor of preventive medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. With his work at Pennington as well as his former role as vice president of medical and laboratory research at The Cooper Institute in Dallas, he established himself as an international leader in some of the most comprehensive studies on human performance and disease prevention.