Adult obesity is a growing problem in the United States, verified in a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control. In the findings, the CDC said three of the four states where Sisters of Mercy Health System serves rank in the top nine nationwide for highest adult obesity rates. According to the report, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma have a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30 percent, with Kansas fairing only slightly better.
The CDC findings, coupled with the self-reported problems of employees, has prompted Mercy to promote stronger, healthier lifestyles for its more than 36,000 employees through an initiative called Healthification. The goal is to support employees in living a well-balanced life, which includes nutrition, physical activity, emotional and spiritual well-being, and smoking cessation.
Mercy is a self-insured organization and conducts health risk-assessment surveys of its co-workers, according to Susan Smith, RN, BSN, Mercy family case manager in Oklahoma City.Fresh fruits and vegetables, juices and popcorn encourage Mercy diners to grab a healthy snack.
It was self reported that most of the co-workers identified themselves as having poor eating habits. Mercy decided it was a moral imperative to commit to help our co-workers and started at the top, Smith said.
Mercy teamed with NuVal, a nutrition scoring system that evaluates the nutritional value of various foods with a score of 1 to 100, Smith said. NuVal was developed by an independent team of nutrition and medical experts affiliated with Yale University School of Medicine. The team worked for two years and established a patent-pending algorithm which converts complex nutritional information into a single, easy-to-use score. More than 30 nutrients and nutrition factors go into the score. The higher the score, the more nutritious.
The system will help co-workers, patients and families determine the nutritional value of food purchased in cafeterias throughout Mercy.
Change is always difficult, but we have removed the donuts from the cafeteria and candy items. Were going to slowly remove things, Smith said.
Another example of changes in the cafeteria is the Grill Special, which used to consist of a hamburger, drink and fries. Now the fries are gone and have been replaced with a salad. Smith says fries still can be ordered, but it will cost more.