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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Companies Try to Trim the Fat From Employees

Aired June 20, 2003 - 19:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Corporate America has found a new way to trim the fat from their budgets without dipping into CEOs paychecks, of course. Fortune 500 companies say that fat, fat employee, that is, cost $12 billion a year in health costs and as CNN's Bill Tucker reports, some of those companies are actually doing something about it.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The waistline has become corporate America's newest way to get control of the bottom line.

HELEN DARLING, WASHINGTON BUSINESS GROUP ON HEALTH: The cost of, first and foremost that an obese person uses a lot more health care. So the number of doctor visits, prescription drugs, if they are depressed, they may be on medication, they may be taking other medications for diabetes, heart disease, any number of things.

TUCKER: Obesity is not simply a bottom line issue, nor is it the concern of companies alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly two out of every three Americans are either overweight or obese. Roughly 20 cents of every dollar spent on health care is spent because of obesity or a related illness and that makes it a public health issue as well.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist earlier this month introduced legislation to fund state and local government efforts to diagnose and treat obesity. One New York state assemblyman wants to slap a 1 percent tax on junk food, soft drink, even video games and commercials that promote junk food.

KRISTIE LANCASTER, NYU DEPT. OF NUTRITION AND FOOD STUDIES: From a health perspective, obesity a huge problem. Obesity can be linked to a number of diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and a number of other things. Sleep apnea as well.

TUCKER: Obesity is defines as someone having a body mass index of 30 or greater or someone who's roughly 30 pounds or more overweight. You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight by your height in inches squared, and multiplying it times 703.

(on camera): Not everyone thinks their weight is somebody else's' business. So companies with obesity programs are quick to call them voluntary.

Bill Tucker, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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