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05/31/11

  04:25:07 pm, by MedBen5   , 258 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Decreased Physical Activity At Job Translates To Increased Weight

An increasing lack of physical activity at the workplace may be a contributing factor to the nationwide rise in obesity, The New York Times reports. Researchers for the journal PLoS One found that the percentage of jobs requiring moderate physical activity has tumbled from 50% of the labor market in 1960 to just 20% now. The remaining 80% are sedentary or require only light activity.

People who have jobs that require more physical effort burn an average of 120 to 140 calories a day more than their less active counterparts – an amount that closely matches the nation’s steady weight gain over the past five decades, the researchers noted.

“We need to think about physical activity as a more robust concept than just recreational physical activity,” said Ross C. Brownson, an epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “In many ways we’ve engineered physical activity out of our lives, so we’ve got to find ways to put it back into our lives, like taking walks during breaks or having opportunities for activity that are more routine to our daily lives, not just going to the health club.”

In related news, WebMD reports that jobs requiring physical activity help some Americans achieve minimum physical activity guidelines. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of 386,400 U.S. adults found that about 68.5% of men and 60.4% of women said they met minimum guidelines in their free time, but adding on-the-job exertions bumped the percentages to about 76% for men and nearly 66% for women. Participants met the guidelines if they reported at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

05/27/11

  04:52:11 pm, by MedBen5   , 281 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Wellness

Wellness Compliance Information Available on MedBen Access

MedBen Worksite Wellness members have access to a convenient online feature that tracks important medical information. Simply by going to the MedBen Access website, you can check your compliance with six critical wellness examinations.

MedBen Worksite Wellness recommends six screening tests, based on age and gender: Annual Wellness Exam, Cholesterol, Colonoscopy, Mammography, PSA and Pap Smear. The interval between these tests can range from as little as one year (for a wellness exam) to as long as ten years (for a colonoscopy), so it’s not unusual to forget when the next test is approaching.

Online Wellness Compliance Information

With MedBen Access, compliance information is readily available. Clients can just go to https://mbaccess.medben.com and enter their user name and password. If you’re a MedBen Worksite Wellness member, you’ll find a Wellness Plan link under “My Plan” on the sidebar. When you click on this link, you’ll be taken to your wellness information page. Here you’ll find listed the screening tests and the dates of your most recent tests and next recommended tests. Completed tests are indicated with a checkmark, while tests still pending are denoted with an “X”. If you need additional information, click the “Questions?” button to contact a customer service representative.

MedBen encourages all of its clients to practice timely preventive care, as it greatly improves the chance a cancer or other disease can be detected early and treated successfully. Moreover, there is a significant financial consideration – the difference in cost between treating an early cancer vs. a cancer in its advanced stages can be staggering.

To learn more about MedBen Worksite Wellness, please call MedBen Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  03:40:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 156 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study: Almost 1 In 5 Young Adults Have High Blood Pressure

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health has found that nearly 1 in 5 young adults has high blood pressure, USA Today reports.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill asked men and women between the ages of 24 and 32 about their blood pressure history, then took pressure readings. Out of 14,000 participants, 19% had readings of 140/90 or higher, which is consider high. (120/80 or less is defined as normal.)

“We were surprised by the figure,” says Kathleen Mullan Harris, a principal investigator of the study and professor of sociology at UNC. “Nobody really knows or had known what the prevalence was of high blood pressure among young adults. This is the first estimate we have on this.”

The findings do differ significantly from an ongoing health study, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which found that only 4% of adults 20 to 39 have high blood pressure. Harris said they have so far been unable to account for this discrepancy.

  03:04:15 pm, by MedBen5   , 210 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Practice Safe Grilling This Holiday Weekend

Gonna fire up the grill this holiday weekend? Nancy Donely, founder of STOP Foodborne Illness, offers a few suggestions (via HealthDay News) to ensure that your barbeque or picnic fixin’s stay safe before, during and after preparation.

  • Keep a small cooler in the trunk of your car to transport food. Bags of ice can be purchased and added to the cooler over time.
  • Always store raw meats in a separate cooler than fully cooked items and beverages.
  • A marinade that was used on raw meat, poultry or seafood should not be re-used for basting.
  • When temperatures hit 90 degrees or higher, perishable foods that are served outside should be eaten first. After one hour, throw them out.
  • If you do not have access to a sink, use hand sanitizer when preparing food.
  • Use separate platters and utensils for raw and cooked food. Also, don’t serve cooked food on platters that were used to transport raw food to the grill unless they have been washed thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Use a thermometer when cooking meat. Ground meat should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees before it can be served safely.
  • Immediately after eating, cool and refrigerate leftovers in shallow containers. Anything left out for more than two hours should be discarded.

05/26/11

  04:33:06 pm, by MedBen5   , 214 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Diet Programs Among Least Popular Weight Loss Options, Study Finds

Last week, we wrote about a Consumer Reports study that declared Jenny Craig to be the most effective diet program (at least when offered for free). But as so often seems to happen, along comes another study to bring Jenny and her ilk down a peg.

Medical News Today reports that researchers for the non-profit Calorie Control Council found that diet programs and “restrictive” diets like Atkins are among the least popular weight control methods for Americans 18 years old and over, despite their celebrity endorsers and frequent media profiles. Other less favored strategies include online weight loss programs, using diet pills and skipping meals.

As for the more popular weight loss methods, the study found that people prefer common-sense diet techniques (or so they say). Cutting back on foods high in sugar tops the most-liked list, followed by eating smaller portion sizes, consuming low-calorie and sugar-free foods and beverages, and combining calorie reduction with exercise.

“Restrictive dieting, such as cutting out certain foods entirely, may work in the short term, but it usually does not pay off in the long term,” says Beth Hubrich, a registered dietitian with the Calorie Control Council. She added that eating smaller portions, limiting fat and sugar intake and exercising are the keys to losing weight and maintaining it.

05/25/11

  04:29:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 235 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Survey Spotlights Employer Thoughts On Health Care Plans

The crew at Price Waterhouse Coopers has apparently been busy these days. Last week, the consulting firm reported that employers can expect average health care cost increases of 8.5% in 2012. This month also saw the release of PWC’s 2011 Health & Well-Being Touchstone Survey, in which 1,700 employers were asked about their medical and prescription drug plan design, future strategies and health care reform, among other topics. The survey was completed in the first quarter of 2011.

The complete survey results are available for download at the PWC website – the document is set up like a presentation, so it’s an easy read. There’s plenty of useful information to be found in its pages, but we’ll note just a few of the highlights here:

  • The average gross spend per active employee in 2010 was $8,697; the average reported trend was 7.8%.
  • Employee contribution percentages stayed relatively unchanged from 2010 to 2011 – typically 20%-24% for employee and dependent coverage.
  • Enrollment in high deductible plans with HRAs increased from 34.2% to 37.9% in 2011.
  • 73% of all survey participants and 88% of large employers (>5,000 lives) offer wellness programs to eligible individuals.
  • 89% expect to increase their company’s efforts related to wellness and health management.
  • 84% of companies indicated they would make other changes to their plans to offset costs associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  • 45% of companies indicated they were likely to change subsidies for employee medical coverage as a result of PPACA (50% for dependent medical coverage subsidies).
  01:29:33 pm, by MedBen5   , 208 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Top Five "Don'ts" For Family Doctors

A group of doctors has a few ideas about how fellow members of their profession can improve quality while reducing costs, NPR reports. And better yet, they’ve tested their ideas and offered them up in convenient list form.

The group’s work, organized by the National Physicians Alliance and published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, offers suggestions for several medical professions. The list for family doctors includes five “Don’ts":

  1. No MRI or other imaging tests for low back pain, unless it has persisted longer than six weeks or there are red flags, such as neurological problems.
  2. No antibiotics for a mild to moderate sinus infection, unless it has lasted a week or long. Or the condition worsens after first getting better.
  3. No annual electrocardiograms for low-risk patients without cardiac symptoms.
  4. No Pap tests in patients under 21, or women who’ve had hysterectomies for non-malignant disease.
  5. No bone scans for women under 65 or men under 70, unless they have specific risk factors.

While this advice is aimed at doctors, patients would do well to keep the suggestions in mind as well, as any unnecessary tests and medications are ultimately paid for (at least in part) by the consumer.

Additional Top Five lists for internists and pediatricians are available at Yahoo! Health.

05/24/11

  02:04:30 pm, by MedBen5   , 314 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Health Plan Management

MedBen Rolling Out Online Medical Provider Portal

MedBen clients and their plan members already have the ability to check claims and benefits online. Now, our network of medical providers can avail themselves of the same convenience by logging on to the MedBen Access website.

Using the easy-to-navigate features, registered physicians and their office staff members can use MedBen Access to confirm eligibility and benefits coverage for patients covered under a MedBen health plan. Coverage levels are available for medical, vision, dental and medical/dental benefits, depending on availability. If the provider also wishes to obtain a summary of benefits for a specific type of coverage, they can request one via fax, and it will be sent within minutes.

Providers can also check the status of a submitted claim and view explanations of benefits. Using “to’ and “from” date tools, providers can limit their claims search only to the service dates they need. And if a claim has been delayed because the examiner needs additional information from the provider, a copy of the request letter (sent via regular mail) can be downloaded.

All information displayed on the Medical Provider Portal conforms to HIPAA patient privacy standards.

So what do these services mean for MedBen clients? While you obviously can’t and don’t need to access these particular functions directly, they do offer an indirect benefit to employer and employee alike, through a faster transfer of patient information. If there is a delay in processing a claim, providers can ascertain the reason before the request from MedBen reaches their mailbox.

MedBen is currently beta testing the Medical Provider Portal with a selected group of physicians to evaluate its features and receive feedback. Barring major changes, we expect to make the site available to contracted providers this business quarter.

MedBen clients and provider with questions regarding the online medical portal can contact MedBen Vice President of Information Systems Rose McEntire at (800) 423-3151, Ext. 342.

  12:15:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 295 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Health Reform Notes: Government Compromise And Authority

There are no big news stories on the health care reform radar at the moment, but a couple of related items peaked our interest:

  • Several top congressional Republican have bandied about the “C’ word – compromise – in regard to controlling health care costs, Reuters reports. Representative Paul Ryan, who introduced a budget plan that would partially privatize Medicare, said he would be said he would “absolutely” be willing to negotiate with Democrats. And Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who does not support Ryan’s proposal, indicated that definitive cost control measures would likely come from multiple sources.

    On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen said that rather than scaling back patient benefits, health care savings could be derived in part from lowering the price the government pays for prescription drugs. He added that tax increases would also be necessary to bring down the national debt – a possibility McConnell doesn’t rule out, either.

  • Medical News Today reports on findings from a new Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey. Asked about the relative authority states and the federal government should have in implementing reform, 82% of health care policy experts think that states should be able to implement key provisions of the Affordable Care Act prior to the existing timelines. This would include such major components as health insurance exchanges and expanding Medicaid eligibility.

    Health opinion leaders also believe, 41% to 25%, that federal government should have more authority than states in reform decisions, while 29% say the current balance between state and federal roles is appropriate. Additionally, 49% feel states should have the ability to implement their own reform strategies as long as they achieve the same results as the federal government, while 32% are against the idea and 18% neither support or oppose it.

  10:41:47 am, by MedBen5   , 211 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Simple Steps To Prevent Arthritis

The Harvard Health Blog reminds readers that May is National Arthritis Awareness Month (in case your calendar wasn’t already marked). One important point stressed is arthritis is not an inevitable part of getting old. While about 20% of adults in America suffer from the disease, it’s not necessarily due to aging alone – genetics, weight, injury and overuse are among the contributing factors.

For the 80% that don’t have arthritis, there are definite things you can do to protect your joints. The Arthritis Foundation offers ten preventive measures at their website; we’ll highlight a few here.

  • Maintain your ideal body weight. The more you weigh, the more stress you are putting on your joints, especially your hips, knees, back and feet.
  • Move your body. Exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them. Strong muscles keep your joints from rubbing against one another, wearing down cartilage.
  • Stand up straight. Good posture protects the joints in your neck, back, hips and knees.
  • Listen to your body. If you are in pain, don’t ignore it. Pain after activity or exercise can be an indication that you have overstressed your joints.
  • Ask for help. Don’t try to do a job that is too big for you to handle. Get another pair of hands to help out.

05/23/11

  04:52:09 pm, by MedBen5   , 118 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

IRS Releases HSA Cost-of-living Adjustments

The IRS has released the 2012 cost-of-living adjustments affecting HSAs. The HSA contribution limits and HDHP out-of-pocket maximums will increase, while the HDHP minimum required deductibles remain the same.

  • HSA Contribution Limits – The 2012 annual HSA contribution limit for individuals with self-only HDHP coverage is $3,100, and the limit for individuals with family HDHP coverage is $6,250.
  • HDHP Minimum Required Deductibles – The 2012 minimum annual deductible for self-only HDHP coverage remains $1,200 and for family HDHP coverage remains $2,400.
  • HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum – The 2012 maximum limit on out-of-pocket expenses for self-only HDHP coverage is $6,050, and the limit for family HDHP coverage is $12,100.

MedBen clients with questions regarding these adjustments are welcome to contact Director of Administrative Services Sharon A. Mills at (800) 423-3151, Ext. 438.

  04:30:50 pm, by MedBen5   , 223 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Retroactive Termination of Former Spouse's Coverage Doesn't Constitute Rescission

Consulting firm EBIA has addressed the question of employer responsibility when an employee divorces but doesn’t notify their employer until sometime later. Does retroactively cancelling the ex-spouse’s insurance coverage back to the date of the divorce constitute rescission under the Affordable Care Act? EBIA says, “No.”

Rescission – the termination or discontinuation of coverage to a point sometime in the past – is prohibited by health care reform laws, except in cases of fraud or material misrepresentation. And even then, the health plan must give at least 30 days’ advance written notice of a rescission. But since the ACA was enacted, the Department of Health and Human Services and other government agencies have clarified the rules that retroactively cancelling a policy due to nonpayment of premiums does not constitute rescission.

In the case of a failure to notify the employer of a divorce, because the former spouse did not elect COBRA and pay COBRA premiums, canceling coverage retroactively is not a rescission under the clarified ruling. The employer would not be required to provide 30 days’ notice.

EBIA does caution that the employer should review all pertinent documents, their past practices, and the facts of the case before terminating coverage under COBRA’s rules. MedBen COBRA clients with questions regarding a potential instance of rescission are requested to contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at (800) 851-0907.

  04:09:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 244 words,  
Categories: Wellness

U.S. Obesity Graphs Paint An Unflattering Picture

The Cost of Obesity

In an eye-opening sets of charts and graphs, NPR shows the state of obesity in America – its growth over the past two decades, its costs, and how our eating habits have changed in the last half-century. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so we encourage you to visit “Obesity In America, By The Numbers” and see for yourself – but we’ll throw up a few stats from the page here to whet your interest:

  • In 1990, no state had an obesity rate higher than 24%. In 2009, nine states had obesity rates of 30% or greater, and only one state (Colorado) had a rate lower than 19%. Mississippi had the highest obesity rate in the U.S., at 34.4%, followed by Louisiana and Tennessee.
  • As the adjacent chart shows, obesity has a significant economic impact on an individual – in medical costs, disability costs, productivity, and even fuel for cars. Obese men experience average annual losses of $2,644, while women lose $4,879 per year – mainly due to salary and wages losses that don’t similarly affect men.
  • An average serving of movie popcorn in 1950 was three cups and contained 174 calories. In 2004, it was 21 cups (buttered) and a whopping 1,700 calories.
  • Annual milk consumption has decreased 38% since the 1950s – but annual cheese consumption has jumped 287% during the same period.
  • From the 1950 to 2000, America’s sugar consumption increased by 39%. While individuals are advised not to consume more than 10 teaspoons of sugars daily, we actually consume double that on average.

05/20/11

  04:02:53 pm, by MedBen5   , 214 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Medical Malpractice Reform Loses Momentum

Malpractice reform seems like one health care issue that both political parties could find some common ground – even President Obama stated as much in his State of Union address. But the Connecticut Mirror reports that progress on curbing frivolous lawsuits has been slow.

That’s not to say that some attempts haven’t been made to jump-start the malpractice matter. Last week, a House committee passed a bill to cap non-economic and punitive damages in medical lawsuit awards. Such a bill has a fair shot of winning approval in the GOP-led House – but even if it does survive, it will likely lose its momentum by the time it reaches the Senate.

Other efforts have met even less success. A proposal to provide $50 million in demonstration grants to the states to develop and implement initiatives that would reduce medical-related lawsuits was dropped from the 2011 budget.

Perhaps the biggest difficulty in medical malpractice reform, the article notes, is reconciling the legal rights of patients with the need to clamp down on “junk” lawsuits. As many as 98,000 patients die every year due to medical errors, so the ability to petition for compensation must be supported. But doctors’ fears of getting sued leads to practicing defensive medicine through unnecessary tests, driving up costs for everybody in the process.

  01:05:13 pm, by MedBen5   , 377 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Weight-Loss Program Comparison Omits Vital Information

As we’ve mentioned here before, scientific research is only as good as the methodology used to gather data. For example, in a recent study linking coffee to a reduced stroke risk in women (posted here in March), researchers used basic observational information, thereby showing only association without proving cause and effect. And now, a new study of weight-loss plans again raises the caveat of “reader beware".

Consumer Reports, known for its unbiased product comparisons, found the Jenny Craig plan to work better than Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast and other popular diet programs – a judgment that was reported in many major newspapers and news websites. The magazine said it relied on the available scientific evidence in reaching its conclusions, according to The New York Times. That included a Journal of the American Medical Association study which found 92% of participating overweight and obese women followed the Jenny Craig program for two years, losing an average of 16 pounds in the process.

Pretty impressive. But what Consumer Reports failed to mention is that the women in the study got the whole program – which, with membership fees and food, runs about $6,600 – for free. While it may show that Jenny Craig works under optimal conditions, there seems little doubt that a person who had to pay for everything out of pocket would not achieve similar results.

Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor for Consumer Reports, said that medical research frequently pays participants for their services, and people who used Weight Watchers were similarly compensated for program fees (though not for food). Karen Miller-Kovach, chief science officer for Weight Watchers, countered that the magazine failed to put the JAMA study results in the proper context. Moreover, it ignored an earlier study that showed a 93% dropout rate for Jenny Craig after the first year.

None of this is to argue that one weight-loss program is better than another, or that such plans can’t be a useful resource for people battling the bulge. But it does demonstrate how studies can distort results or omit vital information, and why prospective customers need to do their homework before investing in such plans – especially when one considers that a doctor consultation, meal diary and pair of running shoes can often provide better results for much less money.

  11:07:38 am, by MedBen5   , 186 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Government Prepares Citizenry For Looming Zombie Onslaught (No, Really)

An “Only-because-it’s-Friday” post…

The Centers for Disease Control has posted instructions on how to ensure readiness for the upcoming zombie apocalypse. And no, we’re not kidding.

“The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder ‘How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?’”

The CDC goes on to list zombie emergency kit essentials, such as water, non-perishable foods and duct table. It also recommends picking a meeting place where your family can regroup after zombies invade your home.

Okay, it may be possible that this is all tongue-in-cheek, and that the zombie angle is just really a clever means of preparing people for floods, earthquakes and other genuine emergenies. On the other hand, there’s been a lot of loose talk about an actual apocalypse this weekend – so does the government know something it’s not telling? No, of course not. But then again

05/19/11

  05:28:45 pm, by MedBen5   , 269 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

US Employer Health Cost Expected To Rise 8.5% In 2012

Employer health care costs will rise by an average of 8.5% in 2012, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study. The Wall Street Journal MarketWatch reports that while more moderate than previous years, the cost increase does reflect a growing confidence in an economic recovery.

Based on surveys of 1,700 employers along with hospital executives and actuaries, Pricewaterhouse found that three factors will contribute to medical cost growth next year: A jump in hospital-physician consolidation, providers cost shifting from Medicare and Medicaid, and post-recession stress in the workplace. The study also says that employers are expected to counter pricing increases by cost-sharing through higher deductibles and greater penalties for out-of-network care.

At MedBen, we’re committed to helping employers keep their annual health cost increases to a absolute minimum. For example, our advanced claims surveillance system has proven uniquely adept at keeping costs as low as possible. Using over 80,000 clinical and financial algorithms to scour every claim for savings possibilities, claims surveillance saved our clients an average of $10.94 per employee per month in 2010 – savings on top of plan provisions, network discounts and other cost controls.

Additionally, MedBen is currently rolling out, in partnership with Verisk Health, Sightlines™ Medical Intelligence, a data analytics and reporting platform that finds opportunities for medically valid, financially smart decisions. Sightlines™ analyzes existing claims data, and reports on quality and cost metrics. The platform also identifies disease prevalence and pinpoints utilization issues. For our clients, this provides a level of detail unrivaled in data analysis.

To learn more about these and other MedBen cost containment measures, we invite you to contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  12:10:12 pm, by MedBen5   , 172 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Panel Recommends Infant Doses On Children's Fever Medicines

The federal government may require soon changes to the packaging of children’s medications. USA Today reports that a panel of Food and Drug Administration advisors voted unanimously yesterday to add doses for children six months to two years old on the labels of Children’s Tylenol and similar products containing the pain reliever acetaminophen.

Currently, such labels only provide dosage instructions for children over two, and recommend that parents of sick infants consult a physician. But a spike in acetaminophen-related overdoses – most common among children younger than two – has spurred the FDA to rethink this approach.

According to WebMD, the panel noted that infant acetaminophen should be labeled only for fever reduction in children under two, though such medications are commonly also prescribed by doctor for pain relief.

The advisory panel also voted that medicines should include dosing information based on children’s weight, and emphasize that it is a more accurate dosing measure than age. The FDA typically follows the panel’s recommendations, so it is likely these guidelines will become binding.

  11:29:43 am, by MedBen5   , 273 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Battling Kid Obesity Through Toy Bans, Clown Layoffs

The fast food industry has, of late, been caught in the crosshairs of local governments and public health advocates. Back in September, we noted that the city of San Francisco was in the process of enacting a ban on free toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals and other high-calorie, kid-centric food packages. Since then, Santa Clara, California has approved similar legislation, and a ban is currently under consideration in New York City.

Needless to say, this development is not playing well with the restaurant industry. According to The Los Angeles Times, lobbyists in several states have led successful efforts to halt government oversight of food/toy combos. In February, a proposed statewide Happy Meal ban in Nebraska didn’t even make it to the first legislative committee hearing. A toy ban bill in Superior, Wisconsin last year received just one vote. And earlier this month, Florida legislators approved language forbidding cities and counties from regulating the nutritional content and marketing of restaurant food – albeit after it was slipped into a bill mainly focused on licensing for vacation rentals.

So if toy bans don’t single-handedly solve the problem of childhood obesity, what else can be done? The Wall Street Journal reports that the nonprofit watchdog group Corporate Accountability International want a certain red-haired clown taken off the company payroll… permanently. More than 550 health professionals and organizations have signed a letter, which appeared in six metropolitan newspapers yesterday, asking McDonald’s to retire Ronald McDonald and cease its marketing to kids. In a statement, McDonald’s responded, “We are committed to responsible advertising and take our communications to children very seriously.” (Ronald could not be reached for comment.)

05/18/11

  05:35:41 pm, by MedBen5   , 285 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Winning The Workplace Snack War

We’ve all done it: We’re at work, we walk by a candy jar or open bag of “fun-sized” chocolate bars, and our resolve immediately goes right out the window. We grab a couple – one for now, one for ten minutes later – enjoy the instant sugar rush, and get back to whatever it is we were doing.

A recent Wall Street Journal article examined the gravitational pull that office snacks have on our collective sweet tooth. It is possible, as the piece notes, that “setting out little bowls of chocolates and mints builds esprit de corps in the office.” It’s a mini-break, an opportunity for a quick chat with nearby co-workers, and a pleasant jump-start before returning to work. What’s not to like?

Well, there is a potential downside to all that extra grazing, sad to say. As Medical News Today points out, the sugar rush only takes one so far. As most of us already carry more weight around than we should, excess snacking may result in feelings of listlessness, moodiness and anxiety. And as just two small pieces of candy each day contains about 480 calories, it also means additional time on the treadmill.

At MedBen, we’re certainly no strangers to the siren song of the candy jar. But we do take measures to balance out sugary snacks with healthier options. Along with the standard vending machine selections, you will find a variety of heart-friendly refreshments. Additionally, we receive several varieties of fresh fruit two times a week, which can be purchased on the honor system for just 25¢ each. And when we do need to work off the occasional indulgence, MedBen offers discounted memberships to nearby health clubs for employees and their families.

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