The Well-Being Journal

What You Need to Know About Trans Fats

James Kanka

Dr. Dean Ornish succinctly sums it up in a quote printed in both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today:

"Trans fats increase the shelf life of foods but decrease the shelf life of humans."

Last Thursday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that trans fats are unsafe in food. Trans fats, originally engineered as a "healthier alternative" to saturated fats, by using oils, have since been universally acknowledged as bad for you — contributing to as many as 20,000 heart attacks a year.

The FDA has yet to issue a ban on trans fats in foods, but restaurants and food companies have already begun reworking their recipes. Dr. Dean Ornish advised McDonald's and PepsiCo on removing trans fats from their foods years ago.

So, while trans fats may already be disappearing from the food you eat, this ruling shines a spotlight on the importance of eating right. Mothers everywhere have been telling their children to do so since the dawn of time, but now organizations are doing the same, and new research is backing them up. In a recent Healthways study, employees who ate healthy all day were 25% more likely to report higher job performance and were absent less.

When companies invest in the health and well-being of their employees, it's a win-win situation. Just another reason we are excited at Healthways to make Dr. Dean Ornish's 30-plus years of diet expertise and lifestyle change accessible to millions.

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Topics: In the News Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Health Prevention Trans Fats Productivity Government FDA Diet Ornish Lifestyle Medicine

Chicago launches its innovative wellness program designed by Healthways, setting an example for the rest of the country

Jennifer Rudloff

 

Chris Cigarran and Ernie Banks Chris Cigarran, vice president at Healthways, and Cubs legend Ernie Banks celebrate the kickoff of Chicago’s new wellness program at a July 27, 2012 press conference.

This past Friday brought much excitement—both for our nation, as we began cheering on Olympic contenders, and for our company, as we cheered on the city of Chicago in the launch of its new wellness program, designed and implemented by Healthways.

Introduced by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel last Friday at a press conference, the Chicago Lives Healthy program is now available to more than 47,000 city employees and their spouses/domestic partners who are eligible. It’s one of the largest, most comprehensive government wellness program ever introduced.

Aimed at helping people achieve improvements in their well-being and live healthier lives, the program offers access to a comprehensive suite of tools and capabilities through Healthways. Chicago Lives Healthy is also expected to help contain out-of-pocket healthcare expenses while saving the city and taxpayers money.

Healthways Vice President Chris Cigarran spoke at the press conference, helping introduce the groundbreaking wellness program. “It’s simple,” he said, “healthier people cost less and are more productive.” On a deeper level, he went on to say, “Chicago Lives Healthy is about making a difference in people’s lives. It’s about giving people the support they need and information they need to live more productive lives.” To hear more of what Cigarran and other speakers like Cubs legend Ernie Banks said, you can watch the video of the press conference online.

[yframe url='http://player.vimeo.com/video/46629498']

The city of Chicago also shared a press release on Friday with more details about the program. Together with the press conference, it garnered the attention of several news outlets. In the press release, Ben R. Leedle, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Healthways shared, “The program’s visionary and groundbreaking initiatives, led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will propel the city and its employees to even greater heights.”

While Chicago will see the direct impact of this program in the short and long term, it’s exciting to think about a potential ripple effect it could have across the nation (or world) as other governments take notice of the example Chicago sets. Working together toward improved well-being, we can be healthier and happier—not just in terms of our physical health, but also our financial health.

To learn more about how Healthways supports populations, visit our capabilities page.

Topics: Financial Well-Being In the News Events Government

Insiders: Blue Zones Project™

Jennifer Rudloff

According to the 2010 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, Iowa currently ranks as the 19th healthiest state in the nation. Although that puts Iowa in the top half, there is room for improvement. Today, Iowa scores well on emotional health, physical health and access to basics such as safe surroundings, financial resources, strong community and health care services. Progress needs to be made on healthy behaviors such as exercise and eating habits, as well as improving overall work environments.

Enter The Blue Zones Project: a public/private collaboration between Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways to help make Iowa #1 in the nation for well-being as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index. In these video's John Forsyth, Chairman and CEO of Wellmark, and Dan Buettner, Author of Blue Zones, talk about this landmark initiative.

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Topics: Well-Being In the News Dan Buettner Health Community Well-Being Index Healthiest State Wellness Healthways Iowa Government Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Zones Project

When it Comes to Our Nation's Budget Crisis, Medicare is Not the Problem

Jennifer Rudloff

Road Sign: ChangesYou would have to be living on a deserted island to not know that the Congress — specifically the House — and the Administration are playing chicken in the ongoing posturing over whether or not to increase the country’s debt ceiling. What makes this round of debate unique is for the first time in history, Congress has tied the debt ceiling topic to the budget process.

The positions of our elected representatives are unfailingly predictable. Republicans want to reduce taxes and spending, notably on entitlements; Democrats want to increase taxes and protect entitlement programs. In this debate, it is no surprise that Medicare [and Social Security] should be the center of the bullseye for each sides’ daily talking points. The rhetoric is hot on both sides. Unfortunately, with elections around the corner, officials are maintaining a focus on their campaigns. This can obscure facts and solutions and create barriers that keep officials from accomplishing what they were sent to DC to do. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Medicare, per se, is not the problem. Yes it’s expensive and yes the aging of the Baby Boom Generation will add millions of new beneficiaries over the next 25 years. But the simple truth is that there IS a way to reduce Medicare cost by more than a Trillion dollars over the next decade, without reducing benefits or capping provider pay. The approach derives from this universal truth: Healthier People Cost Less. And they don’t have to be a lot healthier to save a lot of cost.

In a paper published in Population Health Management this past February, the authors demonstrate the significant dollar impact of relatively modest improvements in modifiable health risks. The Trillion dollar savings is fully 25% of the package both sides say they want to reach. Why, one must wonder, is there little or no energy in that direction?

The well-being of our country is at stake. It's time that we see less brinkmanship and more leadership in DC.

Topics: In the News Healthcare Prevention Budget Crisis Medicare Advantage Government