The rafters of the U.S. economy aren't the only ones bowing beneath unsustainable weight. With continual double digit annual increases in healthcare costs, employers are wedged in a seemingly endless headlock similar to the debt limit quandary our thought leaders in Washington are struggling with. It may not be a legal or political limitation, but it certainly continues to be a financial one. What makes the struggle with the healthcare "debt ceiling" uniquely frustrating is the fact that a majority of the costs, 50%+ are avoidable. Strip out the unhealthy lifestyle behaviors of individual employees (unhealthy eating habits, tobacco use, lack of exercise, failure to manage chronic conditions, etc.), and suddenly the employers' economic structure, its joists and beams, have a lot […]

If your friends, neighbors and co-workers appear to be sizing up before your eyes, you're likely not imagining it.  In the seemingly endless feat of exploring the extreme limit our bathroom scales can tip, adult obesity rates are continuing to increase at an alarming rate across the U.S.  The latest results indicate yet more lumbering advancement of the condition – an increase in 16 states during the past year with absolutely no states (not one) experiencing a decrease.  Only four years ago, one state had an obesity rate above 30%…now, twelve do.  Only one U.S. state currently has an adult obesity rate lower than 20%. At what point do we take seriously the behavioral element implicit in much of the […]

Gamification and Health, Part 2 of 2  In my previous post, I highlighted some of the social game elements that can make health improvement programs more engaging. These included keeping it focused on simple steps as building blocks of sustained change, fostering social cooperation and healthy competition, optimizing team size, linking actions to relevant intrinsic motivations, and adding surprise/delight factors.  Let's dive a little deeper into the behavioral economics that help explain the success of these strategies.  Why do game-like elements ignite intrinsic motivation to modify health behaviors more effectively than traditional approaches?  Immediacy of rewards is one central reason.  A core problem with traditional approaches to motivating health behavior change is the reliance on future risk-oriented messages to impact […]

July 2011
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