Linda Bryant works at MTM in St. Louis, a non-emergency medical transportation company, and is one of those employees who knew she needed help transforming her health. The 64-year-old adopted a rescue dog who needed exercise and found that she had trouble keeping up with him on their long-distance walks.
So, Linda jumped at the opportunity to try the online weight-loss program called Real Appeal, which MTM offered to her and her fellow employees at no additional cost through their UnitedHealthcare insurance plan.
“It's changed how I feel about myself. I don't feel so down. Because I know I'm overweight, but I'm doing something about it,” Linda said. “It’s paying off. So that’s a great feeling. You kind of get hooked on that feeling.”
Linda is not alone. More than 70 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Real Appeal uses personal coaches and convenient tracking tools to help motivate people to adopt healthier behaviors that can help reduce obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Within a few months of starting the program, Linda’s weight had dropped significantly to the point that some of her co-workers and neighbors didn’t recognize her. In total, more than 100 MTM employees participating in Real Appeal have lost a collective 2,000 pounds within the first year of enrolling in the program.
UnitedHealthcare, which offers Real Appeal, also provides employers with a variety of other programs that incentivize employees and eligible spouses to participate in wellness coaching, lower their cholesterol, lose weight, quit smoking or even visit a gym.
The growing popularity of these programs and services is especially seen during open enrollment, which occurs during the fall when millions of Americans select or switch their health benefits for next year.