Christina Shahan openly admits her health had taken a backseat as a busy working mother with four children. When her weight neared 220 pounds, she realized she needed a new approach.
“I'm always kind of having to worry about being in charge of others and having to make sure that I'm taking care of everything, and I'm very bad about taking care of myself,” said Christina, a 41-year-old supervisor at MTM, a St. Louis non-emergency medical transportation company. “I feel guilty as a mom.”
Corporate wellness trends are evolving as more companies find ways to create a culture where employees choose to live a healthier lifestyle. MTM CEO Alaina Macia makes it a priority to lead the way in creating a wellness culture and saw Real Appeal as an online weight loss solution for MTM’s workforce. The weightloss program is offered at no additional cost to employees through their UnitedHealthcare insurance plan.
“As a company, we were looking for solutions to help our employees better manage their health, things like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension are all related to obesity. And we wanted to help our employees be more informed and be able to take action on their own health care outcomes and do it in a personal way that they could be motivated,” Alaina said. “I believe that employers are the new communities for people, and that employees need information from their employers on how they can live a healthier and happier life.”
Real Appeal uses personal coaches and convenient tracking tools, available online and through the Real Appeal mobile app, to help motivate people to adopt healthier behaviors, which may help reduce obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. More than 70 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Christina lost 60 pounds within the first six months of the program. And she’s not done yet. She’s now running 5K races and wearing clothes she never thought she could fit into.
In total, more than 100 MTM employees participating in Real Appeal lost a collective 2,000 pounds over an 18 month period. UnitedHealthcare, which offers Real Appeal, also provides employers with a variety of programs that help 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 wellness 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.