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What Wellness Professionals Need to Know about Sugar Taxes

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

By Christina Peterson, MS

sugar-sweetened beverageCalls for taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) by health professionals and advocates continue to occupy news headlines. Seattle recently joined the growing list of U.S. cities that are experimenting with a tax on SSBs, while Cook County (Chicago) repealed a similar policy after only two months. Advocates of the tax point to studies using economic modelling, which paint rosy pictures of increased tax revenues, decreased SSB consumption and significant health impacts, to argue for the value of this strategy. Although much more empirical research is needed to determine long-term effects of taxing sugar-sweetened beverages, the existing empirical evidence suggests little effect on SSB consumption or health. This is not surprising given that people can purchase SSB from neighboring municipalities, order them from online retailers, substitute from newly taxed beverages to other unhealthy beverages, or switch to a generic brand of soda. Wellness, which draws heavily from self-determination and salutogenesis theories, provides insight into how professionals might think more constructively about nutrition policy. 

The Rationale vs. The Evidence 

Taxes on sugar sweetened beverages are not new and have been implemented in many areas in many different ways. Thirty-four states currently have a sales tax imposed on soda sold in grocery stores, and 39 states tax vending machine sales. The most prevalent argument in support of levying a sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax (on top of any existing sales taxes) is the potential impact on public health. The CDC suggests that 49% of American adults drink SSB on a daily basis, with the average consumption of 149 calories. Soda and sugar-sweetened beverages have been implicated as a major source of excess calories and sugar, leading to weight gain, diabetes, and dental caries. Advocates argue that an excise tax on SSB will encourage people to decrease their SSB consumption, leading to significant improvements in weight and subsequently health.

But at what cost? Are the actual changes in consumption or health outcomes substantial enough to be considered worthwhile? How sustainable or long-lasting are these changes in consumption? And are there other programs or policies that would lead to more significant health outcomes and have a societal or individual cost that is equivalent to or lower than a SSB tax?

There is little evidence to support the claim that SSB taxes have significant influence on consumption. Although SSB tax supporters cite several studies that estimate 7.9%-21% decreases in SSB consumption, with the greatest impact occurring among low-income individuals, resulting in an estimated 30 fewer ounces purchased each week per household. However, most of these studies have significant limitations that constrain their ability to make substantive conclusions about SSB consumption impacts.

healthy drink

The first important limitation is that even if consumers decrease their consumption of SSB, the studies do not account for the substitution effects that a randomized field experiment shows increases the consumption of water, milk (flavored and unflavored), juice, generic brands, beer, and milkshakes or yogurt smoothies. Consumers may also choose to cut costs in other parts of their household budget to cover the increased cost of SSB or shift their purchases to stores in neighboring areas or online retailers. Most studies do not account for any of these substitution effects.

The second major flaw with studies on SSB taxes is that most do not control for the considerable overall downward societal trend in soda consumption over the past two decades or the effects of tax campaigns on social norming. This is critical since SSB consumption has been decreasing at a rate of nearly 1% a year since 1998 as people recognize the adverse health effects of consuming large amounts of added sugar.

Lastly, the sampling and analytical methods in some studies have been criticized for inflated demand elasticity estimates or weak sampling strategies. Therefore, it is not surprising that evidence based on self-reported soda consumption and household budget surveys suggests that a SSB tax did not significantly change in the case of Berkeley, CA, and that SSB taxes are predicted to decrease body weight by less than one pound in Mexico. So, if SSB taxes show lackluster impacts in practice, how can wellness professionals start to think differently about their policy advocacy?

Self-determination theory

Self-determination (SDT) is a theory of human motivation that begins with the assumption that people evolved to be “inherently active, intrinsically motivated, and oriented toward developing naturally through integrative processes.” Essential to the process of becoming aware of, and internalizing behaviors that move one closer to achieving their full health potential is fulfillment of an individual’s psychological need for competence, relatedness, and autonomy. In the context of food and nutrition, competence refers to developing individual and community capacity to identify, source, and prepare affordable, culturally-appropriate, healthy foods. Relatedness is about providing people with spaces and opportunities that create a sense of personal connection with others who value the health-promoting behavior. Lastly, autonomy means that people must recognize the value of a behavior for themselves and feel that doing this behavior is their own personal choice, free from the external coercion of incentives or penalties.

Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages as a public health strategy violate the psychological need for autonomy. It is no wonder that many people perceive this tax as intrusive and react negatively toward the idea of health professionals and politicians coercing them to make particular decisions about what they eat and drink. Furthermore, these policies do not support cultivation of competence or relatedness. In this way, SSB taxes undermine self-determination. Public health education campaigns have contributed to a greater societal awareness of SSB adverse health impacts and, like the case of tobacco, contributed to individuals making autonomous choices to decrease their SSB consumption, without the excise tax.

healthy choices

Salutogenesis and Positive Health

Avoiding a bad behavior does not necessarily lead to the existence of good behavior. Health is more than just preventing disease, and includes learning how to live fully. Salutogenesis refers to proactively generating full health potential. The key aspect of this framework is potential. Health approaches based on salutgenesis study the origins or causes of health. This is conceptually different that the traditional pathogenesis approach which seeks to understand the origins or causes of disease and design interventions that aim to reduce risk and avoid problems.

Reducing disease risk is important, but it is not the same as cultivating health potential. Sugar-sweetened beverage taxes respond to a situation that threatens to cause disease. However, decreased SSB consumption does not inherently lead to healthier eating patterns that include more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains (causes of health). Without policies that enable the conditions for people to cultivate healthy diet patterns (e.g., living wages, shorter work weeks, access to quality fresh produce, cooking skills, affordable healthcare), SSB taxes are not likely to produce better eating habits. 

Is there an appropriate use of SSB taxes?

Food policy initiatives warrant special attention because of their ability to cause great benefit or great harm to society. In some cases, regulations that restrict individual choices are necessary to support public health. Although SSB taxes may only have a trivial influence on consumption habits, they may have other important goals, such as providing subsidies for fresh produce or nutrition education, which may be justifiable to promote wellbeing by bring people together, build competence, and support autonomy in nutrition decision-making. Some SSB tax policy initiatives propose using revenue to fund nutrition education and fresh produce subsidies. This strategy is not without challenges of its own since the revenue typically goes to the city’s general fund for use on whatever programs the city council ultimately decides to fund. In practice, ear-marking tax revenue for specific purposes is politically challenging. However, if the goal is for consumption of SSB to decrease, that also means revenue will decrease. In fact, many cities that implemented an SSB excise tax are reporting lower than projected revenues. For SSB taxes to generate sufficient revenue to fund public health programs, SSB consumption must remain stable or new sources of revenue must be found. A Catch-22.

Drawing on the works of Antonovsky, referenced by Becker, Glasscoff, and Felts, we can adapt guidelines for developing strategies that advance health can help nutrition and public health professional advocate for salutogenetic public policies:  (1) look at the public health data differently: instead of looking at populations who have succumbed to a problem like diabetes to find out what they are doing wrong, look at those who are succeeding and try to find out why they are doing well (what policies facilitate these behaviors?); (2) persuade policy-makers to consider outcomes related to success (e.g., greater consumption of fruits and vegetables), not just outcomes related to problem reduction (e.g., decreased soda consumption); and finally (3) stimulate the development of innovative policies that cultivate the conditions for these desired outcomes to occur. If SSB taxes are conceived as public health-promoting strategies in themselves, they have an obligation to be evaluated on the extent to which they will support self-determination and salutogenesis and be mindful about the place of health policies in relation to other aspects of well-being.

Christina Peterson (@foodkindness) is a PhD student in Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement and the University of Tennessee. She is passionate about promoting sensible nutrition, inclusive communities and economic diversity through food system program and policy evaluation. Christina also has a MS in Nutrition and a BA in Economics. Prior to starting her PhD, she worked for a wellness non-profit conducting needs assessments, program evaluation and research on certification standards. Christina has worked and volunteered in many countries, including Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Kenya, Spain, and Mexico. She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Office of Information Technology Research Computing Support group. 


Tags:  excise tax  SDT  self-determination theory  SSB  sugar-sweetened beverages  tax on SSB  taxes 

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8 Reasons to Attend a Professional Wellness Conference in Person

Posted By NWI, Thursday, February 1, 2018

Today we have no shortage of online seminars and training opportunities literally at our fingertips. With all that's available, you may wonder why it's worth traveling to events like the National Wellness Conference (NWC) and attending in person. While all participants choose to attend for different reasons, here are our top eight reasons to attend a wellness conference in person:

1. Wellness is about communication and the human connection. Sending a message to someone's inbox is nowhere near as meaningful as connecting over a networking social or banquet and really learning from one another.

2. Discover the unexpected! Attendees often say that a conference exceeded their expectations, but the things that have the biggest impact on them are usually completely unexpected!

3. You're only as good as the information you have. There are many places to find the latest data, best practices, products, and working knowledge on a wide variety of wellness-related topics, but you will find all of it in one place in the engaging, informative, and fun setting that a conference provides.

4. Get your passion back! Have you lost your drive and inspiration? Replenish your energy by attending an upbeat, lively, and invigorating conference. You'll go home with a renewed sense of purpose that will amaze you!

5. Make REAL and lasting connections. People at conferences are often very open and willing to share their experiences. It's not uncommon to see speakers and attendees gathered after a session for impromptu discussions.

6. Share what you know with others. We all expect to learn from conferences, but sometimes the most rewarding part can be relating what we know and inspiring others with our experiences. Each of us has great lessons and experiences we can share, and there's no better way to do it than in the welcoming community of a conference atmosphere.

7. Be a part of the wellness community at large. We each work and live in our own community, but to come together once a year and be a part of the greater group of wellness professionals, students, and leaders is a unique and rewarding experience.

8. Build relationships. Grow your personal and professional networks for support and collaboration with the people you meet at the event. You'll be able to stay in touch throughout the year and look forward to getting together at the next conference!

Join us at our educational and rewarding in-person event! 

Only two weeks left to save $75 when you register for the National Wellness Conference by February 16!

Register online today! You can choose to pay by credit card or select "pay by check" to create an invoice. "Women Leading Well" Pre-conference and Worksite Wellness Certificate Program registration also available.

Note: Team discounts are available for groups of three or more. 
Email for details.

Tags:  National Wellness Conference  NWC 

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Spreading the Word on Wellness at the HBCE in Clearwater, FL

Posted By NWI, Thursday, February 1, 2018

The NWI had the pleasure of attending the IFEBP sponsored Health Benefits Conference & Expo in Clearwater, FL this January. Those in attendance were Matt Lund (NWI Exec Dir), Dr. Michael Arloski (NWI Board President), Sherri Galle-Teske (NWI Membership & Engagement Dir) and Caroline Carlson (NWI Marketing and Creative Dir).

A big thank you to Sallie Scovill and George Pfeiffer for providing the pre-course session of the Worksite Wellness Specialist for over 40 attendees.  

Dr. Joel Bennett (OWLS) brought down the house with his “When Wellness Hits the Wall:  How to Address Stress, Depression and Substance Misuse”.

It was wonderful to get out of the Wisconsin weather but even better to meet more wellness professionals and visit old friends.

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7 (totally doable) New Year's resolutions that will change your life

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Reposted with permission from NBC Better from the original article
by Sarah DiGuilio / Jan.02.2018 / 8:33 AM ET

Does the New Year mean a new you — or another failed New Year’s resolution? Probably the latter for most of us, psychologists say, because thinking the flip of a calendar is enough to motivate us to ax all of our bad habits and behaviors is actually really unrealistic.

“We typically make resolutions around our most challenging habits, such as losing weight, changing our diet, exercising more or stopping smoking,” said Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University.

First of all, we’re not always as committed to those resolutions as we need to be to actually be motivated to stick with them, explains Pychyl, whose research focuses on procrastination and goal pursuit. (There’s a difference between changes we think we should make as opposed to changes we actually want to make.) And instead of setting discrete, measurable goals for ourselves, we often set broad intentions, like “exercise more,” he added. “We don’t think clearly enough about how we will implement this change.”

Plus, there’s the fact that we only have so much willpower we can turn to to help us stick to the new habits, adds Roy Baumeister, professor of psychology at Florida State University and author of "Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength."

"When people try to make multiple changes, they put multiple demands on that limited willpower," he said — and they end up failing.

That means the more willpower it takes to skip the afternoon cookie break, the less you’ll have left to help you stick to your resolution to hit the gym that evening. (Baumeister’s research has shown that willpower — a type of mental energy — is actually fueled by glucose and can be strengthened and fatigued, just like our muscles.)

What does work when it comes to resolutions is setting goals that are specific and attainable, so you know exactly what you need to do to accomplish it — and you do it.

Small changes add up, said Elizabeth Beck, MPH, Professional Wellness Development & Education coordinator at the National Wellness Institute. “It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that to make lasting and impactful changes, we must dive into something head first and dedicate a part of our lives to it,” she said. “Small habits are much easier to grow and become big changes in our life.”

Here are a few such resolutions you can try in 2018 from Beck and other health and wellness experts that each take 10 extra minutes a day (or less), and can lead to BIG, impactful improvements for your health, happiness and well-being.

It can be as simple as deciding not to overreact if your kids or another family member gets on your nerves — or take a walk over your lunch hour instead of not leaving your desk. If you feel like you’re living on auto-pilot, starting your day by setting a daily intention can help you feel more in control of your life and your actions, said Jody Michael, founder of and executive coach at the career and wellness coaching company, Jody Michael Associates. And over time, those intentions can each serve as a small step toward big changes, she said.

Figure out the toughest, most important or most intimidating task you want to get done by the end of the day and tackle it first, suggested Annie Lin, founder of career consulting firm New York Life Coaching. That way it’s done, so it’s not hanging over your head or stressing you out the rest of the day.

“It will give you a tremendous sense of accomplishment,” Lin said. And you can let those positive, productive vibes motivate the rest of your day.

Shallow breathing keeps our bodies in that high-stress, fight-or-flight mode, Lin explains. But deep belly breathing sends a message to our brains to relax. Slowing down your breath can slow down the chatter in your head, and reduce stress and anxiety. (You may also find yourself thinking more clearly and sleeping better, Lin noted.)

How to do it: You can literally do this anytime and anywhere. Just, stop. Focus your attention on your breath. Let all your air out and take a deep inhale, then exhale, then repeat. “Even if you can only practice it a few times a day, you can still enjoy the benefit,” Lin said. 

Stairs are a great way to quickly get the body moving, the heart rate up, and increase your metabolic rate — no gym required, said Michael Castiglione, a New York City-based personal trainer and fitness coach. It’s not the only change you’ll need to make if you have big weight-loss goals or want to get from the couch to a marathon finish line — but it can be the first step to just get in the habit of moving more, which can encourage you to be more active in other areas of your life, too.

Whether you got in a tiff with a friend, family member or colleague, get better at apologizing by doing what you can to reconcile the conflict, rather than hold a grudge, said Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley. It takes little risk and little time, but it can be intrinsically rewarding in a big way.

Being able to say you’re sorry and mean it, makes it easier to get back to a positive mood after going through something difficult, Simon-Thomas said. “Positive states, like contentment, warmth, and trust, are important to health, social connection, and focus — and they confer an overarching sense of personal stability and resilience to stress.”

Too often we get hung up on the little things that go wrong from day to day, rather than focusing on everything that’s going right and what we have accomplished, Beck said. Talking (out loud) about something that we’ve achieved helps us remember our true potential and the impact we’re having on the world around us.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of work emails, after-school carpool schedules and life’s countless obligations. Spending 10 minutes of quality you-time could mean reading a magazine, meditating or playing with your pet, according to Beck. Focus on activities that not only make you feel good but also relieve stress and improve your well-being (diving into a bag of potato chips or mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed are NOT the goal).

“When you take a moment to do something for you, you will start to feel a sense of calm in what otherwise may be a hectic day,” Beck said.

And whichever resolution you choose, remember to be committed, celebrate the small successes as you do big ones and go easy on yourself, Pychyl said. “Be ready for setbacks and forgive yourself when you fail (which you WILL do),” he said. “Self-forgiveness re-establishes our motivation to try again.”

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National Family History Day is around the corner

Posted By NWI, Friday, December 1, 2017
Updated: Friday, December 1, 2017

Bright Pink

 You may have picked out your recipes and finalized your strategy to dodge an awkward conversation with Uncle Harold, but are you prepared to tackle family health history this holiday season?

This conversation should definitely be in your holiday game plan. Over the coming month, Bright Pink will help by breaking down the why, when and how to collect this information. Let's Get Started.

Family matters.
Up to 25% of breast and ovarian cancers are familial or hereditary, so your family health history can act as a powerful roadmap for you and your healthcare provider. When you know your risk, you can manage it proactively! Read on.

Know what to ask. 
Both sides of the family are equally important in determining your personal level of risk. While breast and ovarian cancer history is important, other types of cancer can also be indicators of an inherited genetic risk—so capture everything you can. This worksheet can be your guide.

Collect, then assess. 
Once you’ve learned all you can, it’s time to put that knowledge to work. Visit to complete our digital quiz and receive a personalized report on your baseline risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

And remember, things change! Collect your family health history and assess your risk annually. Make it a Holiday family tradition! 

Gab with us!
For more inspiration and support, connect with us on social. We'll be sharing tips all month long! 

Tags:  Cancer  family  Health 

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2017’s Fattest States in America

Posted By Dr. Kelly Schoonaert, Thursday, November 30, 2017
Updated: Friday, December 1, 2017

“Fat” is becoming the new normal in America. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than seven in 10 U.S. adults aged 20 and older are either overweight or obese. Rates are lower for children and adolescents but have risen steadily almost every year. So prevalent has America’s obesity problem grown that the weight-loss industry continues to expand. This year, Americans are expected to spend more than $68 billion just on programs designed to help them shed the extra pounds. The U.S. spends in total nearly $200 billion in annual health care costs related to obesity.

New findings by the Physical Activity Council suggest a need for more aggressive efforts to combat the issue. According to the report, nearly 81.5 million Americans aged 6 and older were completely inactive in 2016. Lack of physical activity is a leading cause of obesity, in addition to genetics, emotional instability and sleeplessness.

But the problem is bigger in some states than in others. To determine where obesity and overweight most dangerously persist, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 19 key metrics. Our data set ranges from share of obese and overweight population to sugary-beverage consumption among adolescents to obesity-related health care costs. Read on for our findings, expert commentary from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.

For a more local perspective on the obesity and overweight problem in the U.S., check out WalletHub’s Fattest Cities report. Also to help spread awareness about diabetes, WalletHub assembled an interesting infographic exploring the impact of the disease as well as what folks are doing to fight back.


Main Findings

Source: WalletHub


Fattest States in America

 Overall Rank
(1 = Fattest)
State   Total Score  ‘Obesity & Overweight Prevalence’ Rank  ‘Health Consequences’ Rank ‘Food & Fitness’ Rank 
1 Mississippi 66.44 1 2 4
2 West Virginia 65.55 4 1 12
3 Tennessee 61.90 2 11 11
4 Arkansas 61.72 5 6 8
5 Louisiana 60.64 3 7 5
6 Kentucky 60.53 7 10 7
7 Alabama 59.07 8 21 6
8 Oklahoma 58.35 6 36 1
9 South Carolina 57.15 10 22 18
10 Indiana 56.60 15 8 16
11 Texas 56.14 9 24 9
12 Iowa 55.74 17 5 15
13 Ohio 55.02 11 25 2
14 Delaware 54.98 12 17 44
15 Kansas 54.80 13 15 10
16 North Carolina 54.73 19 13 22
17 Georgia 54.20 14 16 3
18 Michigan 54.18 18 19 13
19 North Dakota 53.56 16 37 21
20 New Mexico 53.07 28 9 17
21 Alaska 52.55 33 4 28
22 Nebraska 52.20 23 27 31
23 Florida 52.03 20 33 39
24 Maryland 51.41 25 30 34
25 Pennsylvania 51.37 24 38 32
26 Rhode Island 51.14 26 26 45
27 Missouri 51.12 27 39 24
28 Wisconsin 51.03 21 23 29
29 Maine 50.78 29 29 19
30 Arizona 50.60 31 20 25
31 South Dakota 49.98 22 49 20
32 Illinois 49.71 30 31 26
33 Vermont 48.57 49 3 41
33 Wyoming 48.57 37 35 30
35 New York 47.99 38 32 46
36 Idaho 47.89 40 28 43
37 Washington 47.47 42 14 42
38 Virginia 47.39 39 42 37
39 District of Columbia 46.99 41 43 36
40 Minnesota 46.93 34 41 23
41 California 46.86 35 45 49
42 Oregon 46.49 48 12 38
43 New Hampshire 45.90 44 33 48
44 Nevada 45.71 36 51 33
45 New Jersey 45.53 32 44 47
46 Connecticut 44.58 43 46 50
47 Montana 44.57 47 40 35
48 Hawaii 43.94 46 50 27
49 Utah 43.72 51 18 14
50 Massachusetts 43.30 45 48 51
51 Colorado 39.87 50 47 40

Most & Least Obese States

Although this report examines the prevalence of obesity, it also evaluates the levels of inactivity and overweight in each state. However, given the particularly harmful effects of obesity, we constructed a separate table below that focuses just on obesity rates to highlight the states in which the problem is most concerning. Both adults and children were considered for this separate ranking. A rank of No. 1 corresponds with the highest obesity rate.

Source: WalletHub


Ask the Experts

Our collective medical tab of nearly $200 billion is just one of the consequences of a perpetually unhealthy lifestyle that leads to obesity. To shed more light on the issue and find solutions that consumers and local governments can follow, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. What are some tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank?
  2. What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight?
  3. What policies should government pursue to combat obesity and rein in the cost of health care?
  4. What is the impact of obesity on the economy and worker productivity?
  5. Should overweight people pay a higher premium for their health insurance? Do you think they will in the future, based on recent health care proposals?


Dr. Kelly SchoonaertWhat are some tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank?

  • Fresh fruits, although their prices have risen just like everything else’s, are usually available at convenience markets in gas stations, and when you compare their price to that of candy bars, chips, and popcorn, they are usually less costly. Spending a buck on a candy bar as compared to 33 cents on a banana or 50 cents on an apple just takes some getting used to. Once you actually remember how tasty they are, they become worthy of the price.
  • Avoid processed food as much as possible.
  • When forced to go for fast food, really look at the menu. Most times, healthy choices can be found. Don’t just order by the numbers -- ask that food be prepared in the healthiest way possible. There usually is no upcharge for grilled instead of fried, substituting the healthier drink (water) instead of soda.
  • Realize “the bank” isn’t just about money -- the calorie bank is just as important, and if you bust that bank, it may cost you more in the long run, both financially and health-wise.
  • Make more of your healthy dinner to bring to lunch the next day. It is less costly than eating out, and will usually be far healthier than any kind of fast food or restaurant food you can get.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight? 
We want to lose the weight fast, this week, today, forgetting that it perhaps took many years to put on. Weight loss is a process. It will take time to change the habits (usually 4 to 6 weeks to stick to a new habit) that got you the extra weight in the first place. Change one or two small habits at a time. Going from eating what you want to an austerity diet is a recipe for not changing any habits at all. 

What policies should government pursue to combat obesity and reign in the cost of healthcare? 
Stop subsidizing ingredients that make processing food (taking out nutrients while exploding calories) like sugars/glucose/fructose, and high glycemic index foods cost-effective. If we are going to subsidize food stuff, it should be eligible for oversight and we should have a say in how it can be utilized. 

What is the impact of obesity on the economy and worker productivity? 
There are significant direct medical costs associated with obesity and the diseases that emanate from it. Then there are less obvious productivity costs. When workers can’t be at work due to health issues or they can be there, but are not productive because of chronic conditions that limit the scope of their daily activities, it costs both the wage earner and the company. These costs may be covertly passed along to obese workers through lower pay, less advancement and opportunity. 

Should overweight people pay a higher premium for their health insurance? Do you think they will in the future, based off of recent health care proposals? 
I do think people will move towards charging people higher insurance premiums in the future. However, weight is a complex issue, and I think that is a mistake. Supporting good employees in their health pursuits by providing a healthy work culture, through opportunities for active working, healthier options in on-site cafeterias, on-site stress reduction opportunities, financial education on IRAs and other opportunities available to them, family/work balance, and other kinds of wellness initiatives will do more to encourage loyalty, work ethic, and healthy outlooks than penalizing workers with issues. Developing healthy culture and building positive relationships will save money in the long run.


Most Popular Comfort Foods by State

Comfort Foods by State 2017



In order to determine the fattest states in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Obesity & Overweight Prevalence, 2) Health Consequences and 3) Food & Fitness.
We evaluated those dimensions using 19 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the fattest state. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we calculated the population size using the square root of the population in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Obesity & Overweight Prevalence – Total Points: 60

  • Share of Overweight Adults: Full Weight (~6.00 Points)
  • Share of Obese Adults: Double Weight (~12.00 Points)
  • Share of Overweight Teenagers: Full Weight (~6.00 Points)
    Note: “Teenagers” includes the population aged 14 to 18.
  • Share of Obese Teenagers: Double Weight (~12.00 Points)
    Note: “Teenagers” includes the population aged 14 to 18.
  • Share of Overweight Children: Full Weight (~6.00 Points)
    Note: “Children” includes the population aged 10 to 17.
  • Share of Obese Children: Double Weight (~12.00 Points)
    Note: “Children” includes the population aged 10 to 17.
  •  Projected Obesity Rate in 2030: Full Weight (~6.00 Points)

Health Consequences – Total Points: 25

  • Share of Adults with High Cholesterol: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Share of Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Share of Adults with Hypertension: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Heart Disease Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Obesity-Related Death Rate: Double Weight (~7.14 Points)
  • Obesity-Related Health Care Costs: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the annual incremental health care costs attributable to obesity per 100,000 adults, as calculated by Gallup, which estimates per-person cost at $1,573.

Food & Fitness – Total Points: 15

  • Share of Adults Eating Less than 1 Serving of Fruits/Vegetables per Day: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Adolescents: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Healthy-Food Access: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the percentage of Census Tracts that have at least one healthier food retailer located within the tract or within 0.5 miles of tract boundaries.
  •  Fast-Food Restaurants per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Share of Physically Inactive Adults: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Fitness Centers per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)

Dr. Kelly SchoonaertDr. Kelly Schoonaert is an associate Professor of Health Promotion and Wellness and Certified Intrinsic Coach at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Trust for America's Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Gallup and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
Original Article from WalletHub

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Timeless Beauty Using Essential Oils?

Posted By Shanna Bynes LME, Saturday, November 4, 2017
Updated: Friday, November 3, 2017

essential oils

Essential oils have been around for thousands of years—since 3,500 BC, and are used all over the world by many different cultures. These oils are organic compounds extracted from plants with tremendous healing and anti-aging properties for enhancing beauty and restoring youthful skin.

Essential oils are minuscule in molecular size, which means they are absorbed well by the skin—making them perfect ingredients in personal care items intended to heal, soften, nourish, and provide nutrients back to the skin. They do not accumulate in the body over time however—but offer up their healing properties and then dissipate.

Essential oils may be the best kept wellness secret to reverse signs of skin aging and preventing lines and wrinkles. My top (4) Essential Oils to address fine lines and wrinkles and prevent skin aging are Lemon essential oil—great for preventing wrinkles around the orbital bone of the eyes. Frankincense essential oil is ideal for addressing skin aging concerns like discoloration or age spots. Lavender essential oil combats wrinkles and promotes healing of the skin. Finally, Geranium essential oil promotes beautiful and radiant skin.

Geranium oil is also used to treat acne, reduce inflammation and wellness by protecting new skin cells. The next time you're looking for anti-aging, look at your local wellness and beauty store for pure essential oils, such as the ones listed above that can be applied directly to the skin, or, as they are quite concentrated, mixed with a carrier oil such as Jojoba oil or Grape Seed oil. Healthy skin can be achieved by incorporating essential oils into your daily skincare routine.

Skin Dermal Absorption: The skin is relatively permeable to fat soluble substances and relatively impermeable to water-soluble substances. Essential oils are able to pass through the strateum corneum (the outer layer of the epidermis). From here the oil passes through the dermis, into the capillaries and into the bloodstream.

Absorption can also occur through the hair follicles and sweat glands. The warmth of the skin increases blood flow to the surface, increasing the skin’s ability to absorb the essential oils.

Just about everything can penetrate the skin, but the areas of the skin that are the most permeable are the inside of the wrist and behind the ear, the scalp, armpits, and the palms of the hands and feet.

Essential oils can affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes, and are then metabolized. To increase your skin's smoothness and add glow to your complexion, try adding five to six drops of essential oils to your current skincare products, which can be helpful in increasing your skin's moisture retention.

Did You Know? Rose essential oil is the most expensive oil on the market. Not only is it rare, but also very difficult to extract. Rose essential oil rehydrates the skin, quickly reducing redness, and can brighten the complexion almost immediately. Clary essential oil is great for balancing your skin’s oil production and reducing itchy, inflamed skin by causing a calming and soothing effect.

For your next level of beauty and anti-aging, try essential oils. They smell wonderful and have so many therapeutic properties to improve wellness and beauty by maintaining the health of the skin, scalp, hair, nails, and eyebrows. Refresh! Renew! Regenerate!


Shanna BynesShanna Bynes is an internationally recognized leading skincare professional with more than 16 years in the aesthetic and beauty industry. She is a licensed medical aesthetician and nail technician, as well as professional makeup artist.  Shanna is also certified in Reflexology and offers her expertise to clients plus other skincare professionals. 

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Fulfill Your Bucket List! Go On a South African Safari With Dr. John Munson

Posted By NWI, Friday, November 3, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2017

Join Dr. John Munson on African Safari

See South African animals and birds up close and personal!  Dr. John Munson, former NWI Board Member and long-time NWI leader invites NWI members to join him on a South African Photography Safari either on April 12-April 23, 2018 or September 12-23, 2018.  Each trip has openings for eight participants; and price quotes are all inclusive (hotel/airfare/food, etc.)
African ElephantDr. Munson has agreed to donate $250 to the NWI foundation for each NWI member who goes on one of these experiences. The donated money will be set aside to assist international wellness professionals and people of all nationalities to attend the 2018 or 2019 NWI National Conference.  Help us to help people who can enrich their lives through the education and rejuvenation gained through attending the National Wellness Conference.

LeopardFor complete details on these safaris email Dr. Munson.  Early registration is necessary as trips fill quickly. This bucket list experience takes people to the renowned Kruger National Park and surrounding areas. Experience nature and animals living free in their natural habitat.

Tags:  Dr. John Munson  nature  safari  travel 

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NWI Introduces New Board Members

Posted By NWI, Friday, November 3, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The National Wellness Institute is proud to announce our new Board President and Board members. Please help us welcome them!

Michael Arloski, PhD, PCC, CWPMichael Arloski, PhD, PCC, CWP, a long-time NWI supporter and current member of the BOD, has accepted the position of President.  Dr. Arloski is a wellness psychologist and has pioneered the field of wellness coaching.  He has conducted over thirty presentations at the prestigious National Wellness Conference. Educating and supporting great wellness coaches through his company, Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Michael Arloski is dedicated to improving health worldwide. A licensed psychologist, professional certified coach (ICF), author, speaker, wellness consultant and pioneer, Michael wears many hats but with the singular focus of helping people achieve Lasting Lifestyle Change. His company has trained over 4,000 wellness coaches worldwide.

Tabatha Elsberry Hyatt, MBA, CHES, CMI, CWS, CWWPCTabatha Elsberry-Hyatt, MBA, CHES, CMI, CWS, CWWPC, has been a long-time NWI member and currently serves as co-chair of our “Heart 2 Heart” committee/family.  She also sits on the NWI Membership committee. Her wellness career combined with an electric personality made her a perfect fit for the NWI Board. Tabatha resides in Montana with her family.

Brian Schroeder, MHABrian Schroeder, MHA, is a health and wellness administrative professional experienced in clinical, education, financial, and research operations.  He currently serves as Administrative Director - Corporate Wellness, Occupational Health, and Volunteer Services for Eskenazi Health. Besides being a Board member of NWI, he is also a Board member of The Wellness Council of Indiana and Jump IN for Healthy Kids.

Kristi Leonard, EdD, CWPKristi Leonard is the Assistant Dean of Students, Wellness and Well-Being at Central College in Iowa.  She was previously an Associate Professor of Wellness, the Wellness Department Chair, and Faculty Chair at Waldorf College.  Besides earning her CWP, she holds Master Degrees in Community Health Education and Student Development in Postsecondary Education. She also has a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Community Health; and bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Secondary Ed, and Spanish.

Tags:  Brian Schroeder  Kristi Leonard  Michael Arloski  NWI Board of Directors  Tabatha Elsberry Hyatt 

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The Global Wellness Summit—A Special Report

Posted By NWI Member Elisabeth Doehring, Friday, November 3, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2017
Global Wellness Summit

From Left to right: Susie Ellis, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Michael Roizen, Elissa Epel, Ph.D., Louie Schwarzburg, Sue Harmsworth, Dr. Elke Benedetto-Reisch (Medical Dir, Lanserhof) Mindy Grossman (CEO, Weight Watchers), Dr. Paul Limburg & Dr. Richard Carmona 

Well-being leaders descended on Palm Beach for the Eleventh Annual Global Wellness Summit (GWS) in October. This year’s event was held at an iconic 121-year-old landmark, The Breakers. GWS is an international gathering that brings together leaders and visionaries for the purpose of creating and enhancing a positive impact on wellness as well as shaping the future of the global wellness industry. Team collaboration thrives within the daily programs. Trust is a constant at the Summit. 

Held on October 9-11, this year’s invite-only event featured over 600 delegates representing 43 countries. The Breakers proved the perfect host to this year’s event, which included panel-led discussions, general sessions, small group breakout sessions, and dining conversations. 

Sponsored by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a non-profit 501(c) (3), the leading global research and educational resource for the global wellness industry, the Summit drew attendees and presenters from science, medicine, well-being, research, and other sectors. GWI introduces major industry initiatives and regional events that bring together leaders as they chart the future of wellness. With a mission to empower organizations worldwide by educating public and private sectors about preventative health and wellness, GWI empowers wellness organizations by facilitating collaboration, providing global research and insights, triggering innovation, and advocating for growth and sustainability. 


“Living a Well Life”, the 2017 theme, took on an enhanced meaning for the Summit. The three-day event featured an unprecedented lineup of over 50 speakers. Presenters included Louie Schwartzberg, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Michael Roizen, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Dean Ornish, former United States Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, and Elissa Epel, PhD.

First day sessions opened with the brilliance of Louie Schwartzberg, founder of Moving Art. Overhead screens offered a stunning display of the movement of flowers at high-speed resolution film. Schwartzberg linked nature as a truism for problem-solving for individual and team performance. In addition to this nature provides a link to a reduction in stress related to death and disease.  A connection to nature provides for faster hospital recovery time, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, lowers the level of stress hormone, and improves short term-memory.

Richard Carmona, MD, 17th Surgeon General of The United States, noted that the United States spends 19% of the gross domestic product on health in his program “The Imperative for a Well life: 75 Percent of the Cost of Chronic Illness is Preventable”. In addition- more than 75 cents in every dollar is spent on preventable diseases that are all caused by lifestyle choices. 

Chris Jordan, Director of Exercise Physiology for Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute hit full stride with “We Don’t Need More Time…We Need More Energy!”.  Jordan supports managing energy and not just time, which is best done by focusing and being in the moment.  He also explained the four dimensions of energy – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual as well as how energy expenditure needs to be backed up with energy recovery. 

Mohommad Gawdat, Chief Business Officer for Google (X), presented “Solve for Happy—Engineering Happiness”. Google is known as a well-being leader and Gawdat presented the case for happiness in all aspects of work and life.

With a culture of caring, The Breakers operates from a familial standpoint and spirit. Denise Bober, VP Human Resources at the Breakers, Garrett Kirk Jr, Board Executive Committee Member, and Paul Leone, CEO, shared the stage with “Health & Well-Being: The Breakers Story”.  The program at The Breakers is one of the best well-being programs in the world, and Bober and team presented the business case for Well-Being, Breakers-style. 

Kirk, Jr. started out with, “Our A Game today is our B game tomorrow. First, we make our people better. When they are good we make them even better. Then we keep going until they are extraordinary. We have to see possibility. An effective workplace wellness program is the toughest challenge for a company today but the most important benefit a company can give its employees.”

Bober started the Workplace Wellness Program project 12 years ago, and credited its success from the get-go to her executive team. 

Leone closed out the program by sharing measured balanced scorecard results. Since the inception of the well-being program, The Breakers has experienced increased team satisfaction, which in turn has generated an increase in customer satisfaction and growth. 

In his presentation “The Plague of the Modern Era is Insanity”, Mehmet Oz, MD, explained that in the 19th century the major plague in the world was infection. Once we entered the 20th century it moved to chronic conditions like heart disease. Now in the 21st century it is the inability of people to be happy. Oz further discussed programs treating addiction, with the world of addiction treatment now a highly profitable business.

Andrew Weil, MD, challenged attendees to make well-being “fashionable” in “How to Really Help People Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices”. While advocating removing fast food restaurants and vending machines from health facilities and changing government food policy, Weil also encouraged people to spend time with those who have the good habits they admire and want for themselves.  Moods are contagious. Weil showed the value in hanging out with happy and positive people to move forward in life.

Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer of the Cleveland Clinic, presented “Living to 160”. Chronic disease management is responsible for 84% of all medical costs and 67% of those costs are in under 65-year-olds, noted Roizen. The major culprits are tobacco, poor food choices and overeating, physical inactivity, and unmanaged stress. Spending on Alzheimer’s Disease is predicted to go from $184 Billion in 2010 to $1,167 Billion in 2050. Healthcare in modern economies is becoming more expensive as we are treating chronic lifestyle diseases instead of implementing programs that prevent or reverse them.

Mary Anne and Thierry Malleret presented “10 Good Reasons to Go for a Walk and Other Wellness Ideas” as they championed daily walking as part of overall well-being. Walking is the path to creativity in the Silicon Valley workplace – witness Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. This fitness form has strong implications for corporate leaders and teams.

Elissa Epel, PhD, discussed telomeres, the ends of DNA strands, which resemble plastic tips at the end of your shoelaces. The longer the telomeres, the more likely a person will enjoy longevity. Telomeres shorten as humans age. DNA and experience of life, known as epigenetics, have a significant impact on the length of telomeres.  

The co-author of the ground-breaking book, The Telomere Effect, Epel discussed adversity versus nurturance. Fear versus love. She also offered insight into creating happiness and purpose with those around us. Telomere health increases with the practice of meditation, and studies show that mind body activities actually boost telomere enzyme activity. 

Wellness Moonshot Initiative 
A global crisis is affecting the world both physically and mentally. Stark reality is that roughly 70% of all deaths each year are a result of preventable diseases (CDC), while the global cost of largely preventable chronic disease could reach $47 trillion by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum. Clearly the GWI has been watching these numbers.

On the opening day of the 2017 GWS a major initiative was launched. Health and wellness leaders united behind the first global commitment to achieve a world free of preventable disease, a Wellness Moonshot that is arguably as urgent as it is massive in scope. Wellness Moonshot was delivered to an enthusiastic overflow crowd at the Eleventh Summit.

GWI Chairman and CEO Susie Ellis said “The time has come to pool our resources—knowledge, access, funding—and use our collective megaphone on the world stage to work towards achieving a world free of preventable disease. Unlike President Kennedy’s famous moonshot to send a man to the moon, where it was clear when the ‘mission was accomplished’ – this moonshot will require not one, but many incremental steps forward for humankind.”
GWI’s initial focus will be on information campaigns to bring global attention to the Wellness Moonshot: from which prevention initiatives are most needed, and where – to educating the world about high-impact global projects that are tackling preventable disease, and to drive new interest and resources to them. In addition, Ellis noted that GWI will catalyze stakeholders from both the private and public sectors to coordinate, collaborate, and commit to the Wellness Moonshot.

Ellis further added, “As each wellness and integrative medical leader came to the stage to offer support and ‘best ways forward’ to achieve the Moonshot, I felt profound excitement and hope. Every one of them has already contributed mightily to a world free of preventable disease – and their work has, for years, been moving the needle. Also as each luminary came to the stage, it was really the first time that I didn’t see them as individuals: as representing Dr. Weil's ideas or Dr. Oz's ideas – or the Cleveland Clinic’s or Mayo Clinic’s – or the US or German perspective. I realized that we were all on the same strong team, and the entire audience was as well. These top wellness experts didn’t ‘lead’ the audience, they were representatives of the audience - where everyone's input is helpful and equal. 
Following the announcement Schwartzberg added, “I was deeply honored to be included in the group announcement. What we need is a new story, a story about Wellness and preventive medicine being the practice and the path of medical care instead of the treatment of disease when doctors are caring for the patient when it’s too late.  As a filmmaker and story-teller I hope to enable my fellow moonshot leaders and doctors to get their story out, about the paradigm shift in consciousness that we need in our healthcare system and in each individual’s worldview.”

According to GWS attendee Fikry Isaac, MD (former Chief Medical Officer of Johnson & Johnson) and previous program presenter, "When I was in the room I immediately sensed excitement –that we were no longer talking about addressing disease but the prevention of disease. Making engagement and setting the bar higher to what should be done. I have full confidence that Moonshot will be a game-changer moving us worldwide from an ill care system to a well-care system.”



Elisabeth A. DoehringElisabeth A. Doehring, PHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, CWWPM, WELCOA Faculty, RYT-200 is an award-winning writer and human resources/well-being professional. She served as Wellness Director for the Alabama State SHRM Council Board and presents keynotes on well-being, resilience, and trust at major universities and benefits events as well as at State HR Conferences, most recently at the HR Florida Annual Conference. Her works appear in books, journals, magazines, and newspapers in the United States and in Europe.  Elisabeth has been a member of NWI since 2012.


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