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Employee Health Takes Center Stage

JACKSON, Tenn. - Some West Tennessee business leaders are learning how to improve the health of their employees, starting in the office.

Employee health was on the menu at the LIFT Center in downtown Jackson Tuesday morning. A conference was held to focus on the importance of Workplace Wellness.

Rick Canada, the Director of Nutrition and Physical Activity and Obesity, said that the need for the need to encourage employee health is much needed.

"Today you are going to find company leaders interested in putting together a work site wellness program," Canada said. "A number of HR Directors that are really here to promote it back to their presidents and CEO's of their companies to say we need a wellness program."

Health advocates, like Health Solutions Consultant Ryan Picarella, said well over half of healthcare spending can be attributed to unhealthy lifestyles, especially those causing obesity.

"We are really bringing together a lot of the different employers and groups across Tennessee to talk about wellness, obesity and how to create a healthier environment in work places for Tennessee," Ryan said.

A recent study found that 67 percent of companies listed employees poor health habits as a top challenge.

Employers were also given ways to evolve their current wellness programs and grow participation.

Crystal Preslar, a worker at Mount Pleasant said her company tries to easily incorporate health into workplaces.

"We do a Couch to 5K Program, Preslar said. "We also did a weight loss program earlier in the year, and we do something called Wellness Wednesdays where we put out fruit baskets every Wednesday and different speakers come in to talk.

"I think people have over complicated wellness and wellness in the workplace," Ryan said. "There are some very simple things you can do to make big changes with your employees."
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