We were once worried about the Nanny State getting their hands on our restaurant and fast food purchases preventing us from buying our big gulp sodas, but is seems the Nanny’s now have their hands somewhere else: Our Employers. A recent Think Progress highlights this phenomenon in several recent articles which highlight three scenarios:
1. CVS’ recent policy to fine employees if they refuse to provide them with their weight, glucose levels, and body fat percentage.
2. Companies like Whole Foods offering incentives in the forms of discounts to employees based on weight loss and other health factors.
3. The release of a new program, NutriSavings, which offers food coupons and education to employees in an interactive manner while offering employers an idea of what their employees eat overall.
The benefits of these programs for Employers is obvious, by improving the health of their employees it seems they reduce the cost of health insurance. To the Employee the benefits might not be as clear. It’s clear that if the health insurance costs are decreased, they also feel the benefits of these decrease. However, beyond that it gets cloudy. How does sharing your weight benefit you, aside from not getting fined if you work at CVS? How does sharing your glucose level benefit you outside of the discount you get? And how does sharing the food you purchase benefit you other than increasing your savings? There probably isn’t a clear answer, and likely the first two would in fact cause more discomfort than benefit. I’m not too sure about the third…
Efforts to suggest that individuals make healthier choices has been an effective public health tool before public health was even a concept, but there is a thin line between suggestion and enforcement, as well as persuasion and punishment. That is why out of the above three I personally see 1 and 2 as absolute breeches of personal information, while I see 3 as a beneficial tool that can be beneficial to both employee and employer.
To me sharing your grocery list is far less hurtful and embarrassing than sharing your weight, especially since your employer doesn’t see specifically what you as an individual purchase but rather what the trends are for employees. These trends also encourage the coupons individuals receive, although there might be a fault in increasing discounts to healthier foods for companies that have lower health trends. That type of incentive is only helpful while people are unhealthy if money is an issue, but overall I think this is a creative way around the Nanny Employer dilemma.
What do you think?
Written By Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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