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Your Employees Are Fat - Blame the Wal-Mart Supercenter...

Of course, I don't believe that, but it's interesting to consider the blame game that always seems to land at the front steps of Wal-Mart.  From research entitled "Supersizing Supercenters? The Impact of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Body Mass Index and Obesity":

"Researchers have linked the rise in obesity to technological progress reducing the opportunity cost of food consumption and increasing the opportunity cost of physical activity. We examine this hypothesis in the context of Walmart Supercenters, whose advancements in retail logistics have translated to substantial reductions in the prices of food and other consumer goods. Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System matched with Walmart Supercenter entry dates and locations, we examine the effects of Supercenters on body mass index (BMI) and obesity. We account for the endogeneity of Walmart Supercenter locations with an instrumental variables approach that exploits the unique geographical pattern of Supercenter expansion around Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

An additional Supercenter per 100,000 residents increases average BMI by 0.24 units and the obesity rate by 2.3 percentage points. These results imply that the proliferation of Walmart Supercenters explains 10.5% of the rise in obesity since the late 1980s, but the resulting increase in medical expenditures offsets only a small portion of consumers’ savings from shopping at Supercenters."

So Wal-Mart comes with cheap food and we get fat.  Somebody else is to blame, but your self-insured Medical plan is the one that has to pay.  What's that?  You're thinking about putting in discounts to employee contributions for healthcare for people who live healthy?  Watch yourself, Spartan - there's plenty of legislation out there that prevents you from doing anything (Hi GINA!) that will actually change behavior.

I've got an idea.  Buy foods with less fat and work out 3-4 times a week. The low fat foods at Wal-Mart are cheaper too.  How about that?



Simple fix..take out the scooters at the "super center". If you had to walk around to pick up all of that food wouldn't that count for a few calories burned? Just sayin'!

Harris Reynolds

A better idea would be to buy foods with less *sugar*. Just sayin.


Last time I checked, they also sold cheap exercise equipment and gear.


The idea that someone else outside of ourselves is to blame for any of our issues is so lame. Don't people feel weak and useless blaming all their ills on someone else? I blame myself for not slimming like I should. I know it's my fault and the solution is mine as well. These blame game articles are so self defeating.

Tom Abshire

I enjoyed your post, “Your Employees are Fat – Blame the Wal-Mart Supercenter.” But I disagree with your assertion that legislation is stacking the deck against businesses incentivizing employees to get healthier – and that these attempts to drive sustained behavior change are failing.

While HIPAA, PPACA and GINA regulations may seem in flux, in actuality now and in the future there’s even more latitude for employers to promote healthy lifestyles among their workforces. For instance, the final HIPAA nondiscrimination regulations issued at the end of 2006 give employers additional room to offset healthcare premiums by as much as 20 percent for those employees who participate in bonafide wellness programs; the new 2010 PPACA expands that amount to 30 percent. And with regard to GINA regulations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently stated that employers and other entities “may use the genetic information voluntarily provided by an individual to guide that individual into an appropriate disease management program,” including ones that offer financial incentives for participation and/or achieving certain health outcomes. http://www.dcemploymentlawupdate.com/uploads/file/EEOC%20GINA%20Wellness%20letter.pdf

Employers today are effectively designing incentives for participation in programs designed to drive healthy behaviors and their outcomes, think “good driver discount” for good health. Many are using trusted third-parties with strong privacy policies so employees know any health information collected will not be used illegally by their employer or insurer.

Employers who are taking this approach are staying within the laws and seeing a big impact. For example Oschner Health System has used premium discount plan design to drive 85% participation in their health and wellness program and they’re seeing near term cost savings. http://us.virginhealthmiles.com/theproof/Pages/TheProof.aspx


You know where I stand on all this. I think we should have Annie launch her own nutritional supplements brand at every Wal-Mart super center. For reals:




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Of course, I don't believe that, but it's interesting to consider the blame game that always seems to land at the front steps of Wal-Mart. From research entitled Supersizing Supercenters? The Impact of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Body Mass Index and...


In addition, you should factor in the empoyees. First they lose a few pounds from starving half to death, then there food stamp app is approved and they gain it all back plus some. I remember feeling like a full fledged employee for the first time when I used my empoyee discount card and foodstamp card together to buy my kids a birthday cake. Ive been anti-union my whole life but I'm feeling a little confused about the subject now.

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