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What’s Missing in the Debate Over Employer Wellness Programs
The Health Care Blog

By now, Americans are no doubt getting used to debates that put show over substance and skirt the genuinely profound issues the nation faces. But although we may have come to expect as much in this political season, we deserve better when it comes to contemplating the role of employers in improving employees’ health.

A recent “debate” sponsored by the Population Health Alliance about employer wellness programs – the various health promotion and disease prevention strategies that about half of U.S. employers offer, such as weight loss, smoking cessation and onsite gym classes – fell into the depressing pattern of highlighting the largely irrelevant at the expense of the important. The debate, which took place last November 2 at the alliance’s 2015 Forum in Washington, DC, pitted two frequent combatants:Al Lewis, founder of Quizzify and co-author of a book critiquing wellness programs, and Ron Goetzel, senior scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health and leader of the “Promoting Healthy Workplaces” program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.