The Well-Being Journal

More Engagement with Weight Loss Program Fosters Success, New Study Shows

Madison Agee

Studies of weight loss programs in a clinical setting benefit from a tidy combination of elements, such as carefully controlled environments, rigorous processes and structured selection criteria for participants. That’s why it’s so important to examine any program in a real-world setting as well a clinical one – you need to make sure it’s going to work when you can’t quite plan for everything.

The creators of the Innergy™ program, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Healthways, knew that they needed to do just that. A sustained weight loss program, Innergy was borne out of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) sponsored clinical Practice-based Opportunities for Weight Reduction (POWER) trial. The two organizations wanted to advance the science of the successful POWER trial and gauge the weight loss program’s real-world efficacy.

A new study, “Initial Evaluation of a Scalable Lifestyle Program for Sustained Weight Loss,” published in the online Journal of Obesity and Weight Loss Therapy, demonstrates Innergy’s effectiveness in a non-clinical setting. Specifically, the study shows that, in the real-world environment of a mid-sized employer, Innergy can result in statistically significant weight loss. Program participants lost an average of 6.8 pounds per person over the six-month period of the study. Even better, nearly a quarter of the 265 participants lost 5 percent or more of their starting weight.

Perhaps unsurprisingly but definitively, the study also found that weight loss increased in proportion to how much participants engaged with the program. Researchers measured level of engagement by both how long participants remained engaged and how frequently they interacted with the program:

  • Participants still active with the program in the sixth month of the study had an average weight loss of 11.5 pounds and 5 percent of their starting weight.
  • Participants who took advantage of a broader range of program support elements – had more coaching calls, regularly used the website, and tracked their weight and exercise – were much more successful in shedding pounds. In fact, participants who interacted more than the study median with all five program support components lost an average of 5.7 percent of their starting weight.

The study also provided Innergy’s creators with valuable insight into how to make the weight loss program even better. Because the study demonstrated the critical importance of member commitment to weight loss, program designers updated and strengthened enrollment criteria to better assess a member’s readiness to change. Research data also revealed the essential role that re-engagement methods play following a period of inactivity, re-engagement tactics were both updated and added.

Innergy is a 24-month program, consisting of a six-month weight loss period and an 18-month maintenance period. The authors will continue to monitor the study population through the maintenance period.

One of the motives for developing Innergy was to help combat the epidemic of obesity. To learn more about this issue, download a copy of Healthways’ Well-Being Insights article, “Addressing America’s Obesity Epidemic: Practical, Flexible Weight Management Capabilities for a Spectrum of Needs.”

Topics: Weight Loss Health Conditions

"Population Well-Being" Capabilities Come to Independent Physicians in North Texas

Sandy Cummings

gty_dallas_kb_140321_16x9_992Imagine, for a minute, what it must be like to be a physician. You spent all those hard years in school because you wanted to help people live long, healthy, productive lives. And then you start practicing medicine, and probably fairly quickly come to realize that there is only so much you can do to fulfill your mission because you can't sustainably influence what is often the underlying cause of illness: lives lived short of their potential.

Physicians see the impacts of stress, loneliness and isolation. They understand that their patients don't need another lecture on losing weight or stopping smoking because they already know these things are bad for their health. They're well aware that once their patients leave their office, their attempts to change their lifestyles to improve their physical well-being will often fall short. Pressures at work, financial worries, lack of support and encouragement, and so many other concerns create barriers to change that physicians typically are powerless to address, particularly across their entire patient population.

Healthways has teamed up with the largest independent physicians association in North Texas, Genesis Physicians Group (GPG), to directly address this issue. You can read about it in HealthLeaders, or read our press release here. We just wanted to take a minute to share how excited we are about our new joint venture, GenHealth.

Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways' president and chief executive officer, summed up the news:

“Not only are physicians the most trusted, credible influencers of individual health behaviors, but an individual’s bond with his or her physician is one of the most enduring. As healthcare continues to transform in response to untenable healthcare costs, poor overall health, and weaker competitive positions for American companies and communities, innovative healthcare providers such as GPG are assuming more financial and quality outcomes risk for their patient populations. In so doing, they are embracing a scientifically proven approach that has well-being – not sick care – at its core. We firmly believe that by directly supporting the patient-physician relationship with well-being improvement solutions, we will create faster, more sustained engagement in order to proactively reduce the causes and effects of disease and achieve significantly greater impacts on medical savings, productivity and performance.”

 

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being In the News Healthcare Motivation Healthways Genhealth Population Well-Being Genesis Physicians Group

Bringing the Promise of Well-Being to New Markets

Madison Agee

Once upon a time, if you thought about a person pursuing “well-being,” that may have generated a certain image in your mind: someone who has lots of disposable income, shops at Whole Foods, lives in a suburban community conducive to outdoor exercise, attends exclusive yoga classes in expensive workout wear, is likely under the age of 50 … and so on. Insight from the recent Healthways 2014 Well-Being Summit indicates that this image is rapidly changing.

At the Summit, the founders of Feel Rich, Quincy Jones III and Shawn Ullman, discussed their company’s mission to bring the message of better well-being to minority and urban communities. These markets have historically been underserved with authentic, connected messaging that educates and excites them about taking steps to improve their well-being.

To achieve their mission, the two entrepreneurs utilize engaging multimedia content delivered by hip-hop artists who are considered trustworthy messengers of change. These artists – many of whom are committed to healthy lifestyles (did you know the rapper Common is a vegan fitness enthusiast?) – promote better well-being to the African-American and Latino markets through relatable imagery and authentic language.

Jones and Ullman’s approach also allows well-being brands that are looking to gain entrance into or further penetrate these markets to connect to their target consumers in a more genuine way. For example, they spearheaded the Johnson & Johnson “Text4Baby” campaign, which provided expecting and new mothers with health advice and information for both themselves and their babies. The mothers were inspired to receive the texts with a promise of a personal lullaby for their new baby sung by actor-model-musical artist Tyrese.

Older adults, too, are tuning in to well-being in growing numbers. Joseph Coughlin of the MIT AgeLab provided the Well-Being Summit audience with an interesting overview of some of the demographics and trends of this expanding population. Generally speaking, this market:

  • Considers itself ill, but not sick — e.g., “I may have high blood pressure, but I’m doing just fine”
  • Has at least some college education
  • Values having health and ability and freedom to still live active lives
  • Is skeptical of information, preferring testimonials and advice from others like them
  • Is committed to working or required to work as long as they can — 40 percent plan to “work until they drop”
  • Is overloaded by information, which is often contradictory
  • Is relatively isolated — 30 percent of people 60+ live alone, and 70 percent of 50+ live in rural areas

Coughlin pointed out that traditional methods of delivering a well-being message to seniors, which are predicated on facts, fear and a prescriptive “this is what’s good for you” approach, don’t work. Instead, organizations and brands trying to reach this demographic should use a more fun, social-oriented framework that:

  • Leverages social networks
  • Speaks in terms of solutions, not just data
  • Encourages life performance instead of illness management
  • Is personal and authentic
  • Is constructed to enable a longer life span versus getting a senior through this life stage

Connecting with these two “non-traditional” markets for well-being products and services – urban/minority and seniors – requires that brands take a new approach. In both instances, authenticity and social engagement are critically important.

Topics: Well-Being Aging Seniors Consumers urban Well-Being Summit Minorities

Should You Be Emphasizing "Feminine" Values at Your Organization?

Madison Agee

According to New York Times best-selling author and corporate consultant John Gerzema, the values that we traditionally associate with femininity – such as nurture, empathy, collaboration and flexibility – are the “operating system of the 21st century.” As he recently discussed at Healthways’ 2014 Well-Being Summit, where he connected well-being to leadership and consumer trends, most people already think these feminine values are of great importance, a trend that will only continue to grow in the future.

In the book, The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future, which Gerzema co-authored by Michael D’Antonio, the authors explore this idea in detail. Their research, which took into account surveys of 64,000 people in 13 countries around the world, reveals some interesting insight into what people believe to be important and the values and approaches they feel will benefit themselves, their families, communities and workplaces, and the greater good.

Results from the surveys indicate that two-thirds of people think the world would be a better place if men thought like women. More than half (57 percent) are also frustrated with the conduct of men. The authors then split their original survey group of 64,000 into two halves and asked the first half to classify 125 human traits (e.g., “confident,” “visionary,” “adaptive”) according to whether the traits were masculine, feminine or neither. They then asked the other half to rank the same 125 traits (which were not given any gender association) based on how those traits relate to leadership, success, morality and happiness.

Conclusions from their research led the authors to assert that people all over the world are looking for more “feminine” leaders – leaders whose power stems more from gentle influence and persuasion than autocratic control. Gerzema and D’Antonio also concluded that feminine values are on the rise, and that people now prefer these values to those historically associated with masculinity.

Gerzema provided Summit attendees with both the results of their research and examples of how this rise of feminine values is being played out in far-flung corners of the world. He discussed how businesses and organizations all over the world are rejecting traditional models associated with masculinity and instead emphasizing these more feminine approaches to leadership, work and productivity – and achieving incredible success from doing so.

Traits such as empathy, collaboration, inclusion and humility are helping organizations achieve their business goals. As surprising evidence of this shift in thinking, Gerzema shared that 67 percent of survey participants indicated that they would work for less money at a company in which they truly believed, upturning the classic model that people are primarily motivated by money. Clearly, liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals — in other words, having a sense of purpose — is a significant contributor to well-being. To learn more about the importance of well-being, download the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Report.

Topics: Well-Being Wellness Program Leadership Women Well-Being Summit Feminine

Well-Being as Brand: 10 Examples

Madison Agee

Well-being is everywhere these days – people are talking, reading and thinking about it. And companies are paying attention, looking to leverage this ever-growing movement to attract new customers, grow their businesses and position themselves for future opportunity. Jennifer Pfahler, an expert in the consumer health, wellness and lifestyle market, says that well-being is now well-entrenched within the DNA of many consumer brands.

Pfahler’s recent presentation at the Healthways 2014 Well-Being Summit provided attendees with an overview of this phenomenon, including a discussion of “why well-being?” and “what’s it worth?”. To demonstrate the scope of this ever-growing trend, she offered several examples of consumer-oriented brands that are adopting well-being as part of their marketing and product strategy.

  1. Activia. Activia is marketed not only as a delicious yogurt, but one with probiotics that promote and support digestive health.
  2. bedMATCH. Spending on sleep-related products continues to grow, and bedMATCH is taking advantage of the opportunity by offering a scientifically based system for helping consumers find the right mattress for their specific needs.
  3. EVEN Hotels. IHG is launching this new brand designed to attract travelers interested in health and wellness, with features such as in-room workout options and healthy food and beverage choices.
  4. fitmob. This company uses social networking to connect individuals within a community to one another and group exercise opportunities led by a professional fitness trainer – all enhanced by a pricing structure that rewards additional workouts.
  5. iCouch. Leveraging the power of online video, iCouch allows mental health professionals to provide counseling and therapy services to individuals from the comfort of their homes.
  6. Dove. Dove’s recent marketing campaigns have centered on “Real Beauty,” encouraging self-acceptance and self-love among women of all ages, shapes, sizes and races.
  7. Oral-B. This established oral care brand has started to utilize the language of well-being to demonstrate the importance of oral health and its link to a broad range of other aspects of total well-being.
  8. CVS. This leading drugstore recently made the newsworthy decision to no longer stock or sell tobacco products in its retail outlets, despite a projected revenue loss of $2 billion per year.
  9. Kind. The brand not only uses health-conscious ingredients in its snacks, but encourages people to perform random acts of kindness and generosity – “Do the Kind Thing.”
  10. Suja. The line of cold-pressed juices is marketed as helping people “live a long, beautiful life.”

You’ve probably seen many of other examples of companies leveraging the concept and language of well-being to evolve their brands and attract consumers who are interested in a happier, more health-conscious lifestyle. According to Pfahler, doing so helps them achieve the “three Ps”:

  1. Improve their positioning, with well-being as a market differentiator
  2. Increase profits and drive commercial success
  3. Have a purpose

Pfahler believes that more B2C companies will join the well-being movement, and this will likely drive brands in the B2B space to consider a similar approach.

Topics: Well-Being Consumers Branding Well-Being Summit