TOPS Workplace Wellness Programs Can Improve Members’ Health, Employers’ Bottom Line

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In an environment where the latest, sobering statistics on the health of Americans and the costs of healthcare spending seem to be announced daily, TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) has become an increasingly visible partner in workplace wellness initiatives.

The focus is on what I like to call, the ‘SEA’ model of personal transformation – support, encouragement, and accountability. If your workplace community is dedicated to becoming more active and healthy, it’s likely that you, too, will become inspired to makeover your health.

In an environment where the latest, sobering statistics on the health of Americans and the costs of healthcare spending seem to be announced daily, TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) has become an increasingly visible partner in workplace wellness initiatives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), two-thirds of the population is now overweight, and as many as 72 million adults are considered obese. Research has shown that, as weight increases, the risks for the following preventable, chronic conditions also increase: coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, hypertension, stroke, and more. Obesity costs U.S. companies an estimated $13 billion per year and is associated with 39 million lost workdays.

To help temper this trend and increase overall wellness for its members, TOPS – the nonprofit weight-loss support organization – offers their own remedy in the form of “personal healthcare reform.” With thousands of chapters and a low annual membership fee of $26, TOPS can provide a flexible and affordable component to employers’ workplace wellness efforts, lowering healthcare costs, reducing absenteeism, and increasing productivity.

Workplace programs are designed to be cost-effective for companies and convenient for participants. When a workplace chapter is formed, TOPS Field Staff meet with an organization’s human resources department or wellness supervisors to oversee the start-up and help to tailor a program that works for that specific group. Weekly meetings are held right at the office, making it easy for members to attend. With Americans spending the majority of their weekdays working with colleagues, members already know each other, fostering built-in trust and camaraderie. In fact, a recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that social ties directly influence obesity and health.

“In many ways, TOPS is the original form of ‘social networking’ as it applies to wellness,” notes “Dr. Nick” Yphantides, M.D., M.P.H., medical spokesperson for TOPS. “The focus is on what I like to call, the ‘SEA’ model of personal transformation – support, encouragement, and accountability. If your workplace community is dedicated to becoming more active and healthy, it’s likely that you, too, will become inspired to makeover your health.”

“Employers across the U.S. and Canada have started on-site TOPS chapters as it is a convenient and financially-accessible way for employees to take charge of their health and well-being,” says Maggie Lehnert, TOPS’ wellness coordinator liaison. “Not only do we teach members how to make healthy lifestyle choices, the TOPS chapter environment provides the support and motivation members need to sustain these choices. It is this support that helped TOPS members to lose more than 476 tons of excess weight in one year alone.”

Numerous companies have experienced wellness benefits including:

  • An entire school district in Kansas started 25 TOPS chapters, consisting of more than 200 members who participate in motivating and friendly weight-loss competitions and contests.
  • A community clinic organization in Wisconsin formed a closed, corporate chapter that was so well-received, it became two public-access chapters. Membership is comprised of a multi-generational group of women and men of all ages who focus on putting the TOPS program into practice at home to benefit their children and spouses, as well.
  • An international manufacturer of high-performance technical textiles in North Carolina has also seen improvements in the wellness of its TOPS members.

“With companies watching their dollars now more than ever and seeking to maximize their investments, implementing just a few wellness initiatives can have a great impact on employees’ health – and the bottom line,” says Barbara Cady, TOPS president.

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the original, nonprofit weight-loss education and support organization, was established more than 61 years ago to champion weight-loss support and success. Founded and headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., TOPS promotes successful weight management with a philosophy that combines healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness education, and support from others at weekly chapter meetings. TOPS has about 170,000 members in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada, and several chapters in Europe.

For more information about how TOPS can provide your business with workplace wellness management opportunities, please contact Maggie Lehnert, TOPS’ Wellness Coordinator Liaison, at (414) 482-4620 x23.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. To find a local chapter, view TOPS Web site or call (800) 932-8677.

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Kimberly Greene

Beth Maniero
TOPS Club Inc.
(414) 482-4620 x43
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