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October 26, 2004 > Employers Urged to Apply for California Fit Business Award

Employers Urged to Apply for California Fit Business Award

by Suzanne Flint, Task Force Director

The California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness and the California 5 a Day-Be Active! Worksite Program are pleased to announce the second annual California Fit Business Award. The award recognizes those employers who go the extra mile in supporting and promoting health among their workers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity-attributable medical expenditures cost California $7.7 billion in 2003. The majority of these costs are shouldered by public and private employers who sponsor health insurance for their workers. With obesity and overweight now at epidemic proportions, these costs are projected to continue unless aggressive action is taken.

The Task Force salutes efforts to promote the health of employees and encourages all employers, both small and large businesses, to apply for the Fit Business Award. Last year's winners were American Apparel (Los Angeles), San Mateo County (Redwood City), University of Health Services at Berkeley, NutriFit (Los Angeles), Casa Dorinda (Montecito), Contra Costa County School Insurance Group (Pleasant Hill) and L-3 Communications (Menlo Park).

"The cost to California employers for having an unfit workforce is higher than ever before. It is important to promote the proactive stance many employers are taking to initiate a healthy lifestyle for
their employees," said Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), founder and chair of the Task Force. "The California Fit Business Award rewards employers that make an investment in the health and well-being of their employees."

The California Fit Business Award application includes questions to uncover the various ways in which employers make employee health a top priority in the workplace. Questions cover topics such as food service, vending machines, eating at the workplace, moving more, promoting healthy lifestyles and creating a healthy culture. Criteria used to determine a "Fit Business" environment include the presence of: healthy food service options; employer provided time, space, and support for physical activity during the work day; and worksite policies for providing health promotion programs during company time (other than the lunch hour).

Organizations of all sizes can apply for the Fit Business Award. There are five size categories that ensure that employers are competing with others of similar size: more than 1,000 employees, 300-999 employees, 100-299 employees, 25-99 employees and less than 25 employees. To apply for the California Fit Business Award you must employ California workers and submit the web-based application no later than January 15, 2005. Visit http://www.wellnesstaskforce.org for applications and complete instructions.

"Employers bear the costly burden of an unfit workforce," said James Carman, manager of the California 5 a Day-Be Active! Worksite Program. "People spend one-third of their day at work. It makes good business sense for small businesses and larger employers to focus on prevention and provide a healthy work environment for employees."

Under the leadership of Senator Tom Torlakson, the California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness addresses the critical issues of fitness and nutritional health in California's schools and workplaces. A public/private collaboration, the Wellness Task Force brings together educators, health advocates, health providers, athletes and legislators. The mission of the Task Force is to create and promote policies which decrease the obesity rates in California's schools and workplaces.

 
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