www.the-papers.com July 2008
HEALTH & FITNESS
By Wendell Fowler: What employees really want
By JULIE YOUNG
Wendell Fowler truly believes in the adage "You are what you eat."
Speaking before 170 people at the Indiana Chamber on June 10, the motivational
speaker, chef, humorist and Senior Life correspondent talked about the importance
of living well, especially during these difficult times. "Employee wellness is a
hot topic these days as health insurance rates keep going up," he said.
While many Americans may want to blame the insurance companies, the heart
of the problem lies with the individual who suffers from poor nutrition and a lack of
physical activity. As a result, now more than ever, Americans are at greater risk for
developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke along with some forms of cancer.
"Wellness is more of the absence of disease," he mused. "It is a state of well-being
that comes from the ripples in our pond of health decisions each day."
Drawing from his own experiences. as a smoker, alcohol drinker and an admittedly obese individual, Fowler said he was lethargic at work, unproductive and unable to reach his full
potential. Eating "dead food" which stunted his mental growth.
At one point, he was diagnosed with terminal viral cardio myopathy and told he
would die. Soon. Clocking in at 285 pounds, Fowler knew he was a French fry and a cocktail
away from a long "nap" after his physicians said his heart looked like Jell-O. The news
was all the motivation he needed to lose 100 pounds and get a new lease on life.
"I didn't know I could write, let alone win nine national awards and publish
four books. I was simply an average chef, but as a result I've now written five books, speak
to corporations, have a syndicated health column and host a successful TV segment on
Restaurants are addressing consumer and government concerns about obesity and
health in a variety of ways. So, restaurants are changing their menus to appeal to
nutrition-conscious consumer. To meet legislative mandates, many city governments are passing legislation banning trans fats in restaurants.
"Employers are becoming more aware that obesity, diabetes and a lack of exercise are adversely affecting the health and productivity of their employees and ultimately, the business bottom line," he said.
Thanks to this knowledge, what they may not be able to offer in insurance benefits,
companies are putting together work-site-based health promotion and proactive, reward based wellness programs to help support employees as they move toward towards a healthier lifestyle.
"When I catered for the NBA for 16 years, it was interesting to track what each team ate and then kept tabs on their standings in the win/loss column. Sure enough, the teams that
continually ate deep fried this, unctuous meats, and gravy, the State Beverage, lost-after
all. Head lettuce salads and vegetables were for sissies,"Fowler noted. Chef Wendell said eating healthy does not mean foregoing our favorite things. When men and women choose to change their diets, most eat less of what they perceive as harmful, rather than more of something beneficially healthful. Businesses are responding to the issue and Fowler said employers ,are becoming acutely aware that education is crucial since medical costs for so many companies can consume half of the company's profits. "Knowing what to eat and why has a far reaching effects on the whole business," he said.
Chamber of Commerce said participants who attended the Indiana Employer's Summit
on Soaring Health Care Costs enjoyed Fowler's speech and embraced his passion for
a company. l heard from a lot of people that they enjoyed hearing what he had to say."