After gaining some holiday weight, don't be surprised if your boss asks you to lose a few pounds.

Wait, what?!

Actually, companies are starting to offer more incentives to promote employee health and wellness.

And while giving workers more than just healthy snacks in the vending machine is sweet, the real reason is to help lower the cost of health care as the rates of obesity continue to rise. More than one-third (78.6 million) of adult Americans are obese, and according to researchers at Duke University, this is costing companies over $73 billion a year. If obese employees shed extra pounds to be at a healthy weight, companies would save about nine percent of the money they spend on health care or lose when employees call in sick.

So to get workers to slim down (and consequentially help them get healthy, so they are not sick and don't miss work), companies are offering programs to get their employees healthy.

At L.L. Bean Inc's call center in Bangor, Me., employees received biometric screenings to determine if they need to lose weight. 85 percent of employees were found to be either overweight or obese, so the retailer enrolled 24 employees in a health program that included exercise classes, a nutritionist and counseling, which were all given during paid work hours for a year.

Those 24 employees lost 15 pounds on average after the program ended. Since its success, L.L. Bean continues to offer 16-week version of the program at various locations.

Other companies are offering wearable fitness trackers and are holding health competitions on social apps. "Wearable activity-tracker Fitbit Inc. says enterprise work for customers such as BP PLC and Anthem Inc., the large health insurer and managed-care provider, is one of the fastest-growing areas of the business, " The Wall Street Journal reports.

38 percent of employers are covering the cost of weight-loss surgeries, and others are paying for weight-loss drugs with some like Belviq, Qsymia and Contrave costing $50 to over $200.

There is also a focus on mental health counseling to address any emotional attachment related to eating issues. Some lucky employees are even offered cash incentives to push them to stay healthy.

And while helping employees increase the quality of their health could be seen as a positive, some experts say that it could have adverse health effects if people use crash diets to get the prizes and gain the weight back afterwards.

One third of companies have already rolled out weight loss programs for employees, and it is estimated that seven percent more are planning to offer their own over the next year.

The Affordable Care Act allows employers to offer such incentives, although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed lawsuits related to the "wellness" programs.

[Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver/Flickr]

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