Online Diet Program reduces Healthcare Costs for Employees with Heart Issues

Lisa Nelson Health Pro
  • Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Public Health have found employer-sponsored, internet-based diet and exercise programs to be an effective low-cost benefit that will lower healthcare costs for high-risk employees with cardiac risk factors, such as hyperlipidemia and hypertension. These findings are reported in the current issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

    For the past 10 years health insurance premiums have risen drastically. This has placed a greater burden on employer sponsored health insurance programs as well as employees. Employers who've implemented tools to engage employees and employee dependents have better managed the rising healthcare costs.

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    One such tool is a low cost internet-based nutrition and exercise behavior modification program. The program allows participants to login and receive weekly information on how to improve their nutrition and exercise habits. Researchers evaluated whether an internet-based behavior modification program had an impact on healthcare costs. They analyzed the costs for employees and their spouses 12 months prior to the launch of the internet based program and costs during the 12 months following the launch. Researchers also took into account how often a participant utilized the program website and the impact on healthcare costs. Within all study participants, a subgroup of 735 individuals with cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia were examined.


    When evaluating the impact on all employees, the internet-based program was not linked to reduced healthcare costs. However, healthcare costs for those in the cardiovascular risk subgroup were on average $827 lower for the study year. The study found those with cardiovascular risks enrolled in the internet-based program lost weight, lowered their blood pressure, and improved their eating habits. These improvements were seen within the first year of program implementation for employees with cardiovascular risk factors.

    Researchers also found evidence indicating the more times individuals with cardiovascular risk factors visited the program website healthcare costs decreased. Each additional visit to the website was associated with a $55 savings in healthcare costs.

    For more information regarding this study go to


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Published On: November 23, 2009