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It is well known that the United States has long faced an obesity epidemic; the nation's number one killer is heart disease, children are more obese and unhealthy than ever and medical costs continue to rise due to obesity-related issues. But these problems are no longer unique to those on American soil. According to research from Towers Watson, obesity, work-related stress and chronic disease are accelerating among the non-U.S.-based employees of multinationals-a scary thought considering few multinationals have programs in place to allow their overseas employees to manage such health risks. The survey states that only 40% of multinationals provide case management programs; only 25% provide disease management programs; around 30% offer health promotion, health screenings and behavioral health programs; and just 25% provide health risk assessments. "To mitigate growing health care risks and associated costs as well as boost worker productivity, multinationals can increase their use of health strategies that are truly global," said Francis Cohen of Towers Watson. According to the report, "Workforce Health Strategies: A Multinational Perspective," the number of multinational companies taking a global approach to mitigate so-called "lifestyle diseases" will double by 2012.
Emily Holbrook is the founder of Red Label Writing, LLC, a writing, editing and content strategy firm catering to insurance and risk management businesses and publications, and a former editor of Risk Management.