Northeast Business Group on Health Releases an Employer Guide to Obesity, Diabetes and Racial Health Equity
NEW YORK, April 14, 2022 — Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) today released “Obesity, Diabetes and Racial Health Equity: What Employers Can Do,” a guide to help HR and benefit leaders develop and implement strategies aimed at achieving racial equity in obesity and diabetes prevention, treatment and outcomes.
Obesity and diabetes have long been top conditions of concern for employers because of their prevalence, connection to other serious illnesses, and high direct and indirect costs. People with obesity and diabetes have suffered complications and poor outcomes from COVID-19 at rates that highlight the need for employers to address these conditions in their employee populations with renewed focus. Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) populations suffer from obesity and diabetes – and poor outcomes from these diseases — in disproportionate numbers, making it critically important to pursue strategies aimed at reducing inequities in care and treatment.
“While effective treatments for obesity and diabetes exist, equitable access to these treatments doesn’t exist across racial and ethnic populations, including within employee populations,” said Candice Sherman, CEO NEBGH. “In some cases, benefits coverage for effective treatment may not be adequate and people may have difficulty paying for the care they need. Additionally, BIPOC employees may have trouble finding culturally competent care providers that are attuned to the impact that racism has on physical and mental health. We developed this guide to sensitize employers to these issues and provide concrete actions they can take to formulate strategies aimed at providing access to effective treatment for obesity and diabetes for all employees.”
The 32-page guide begins with background on diabetes and obesity, and an in-depth discussion of how racial and health disparities are pronounced in both the prevalence and treatment of obesity. The guide explains the cumulative biological burden on people of color – regardless of income, education or profession – that racism causes, through daily adaptation to physical and emotional stress. Some individuals face a dual burden of racism and weight bias. For example, people with obesity often experience social stigma and discrimination in the form of fewer job opportunities and pay inequities.
The guide suggests seven strategies employers can pursue aimed at achieving racial equity in obesity and diabetes prevention, treatment and outcomes. These include socializing racial disparities in health access and outcomes in the context of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) efforts; designing benefits that support best practices in obesity and diabetes care; improving health and benefits literacy; reducing financial barriers to care; ensuring access to racially sensitive mental health support; and evaluating healthcare vendors on DE&I practices and holding them accountable. The guide includes a list of resources on weight bias issues as well as a list of organizations that provide culturally sensitive health and wellness services.
“The employers we work with want to do the right thing when it comes to providing all employees with equitable access to high-quality physical and mental healthcare. Highlighting the inequities that exist in the prevention, treatment and outcomes of obesity and diabetes in BIPOC populations creates an opportunity for employers to begin to address them, and to improve access to effective interventions across their entire employee populations,” said Sherman.
The guide is available to employers and the public at no cost, and can be accessed here.
About Northeast Business Group on Health
NEBGH is an employer-led, multi-stakeholder coalition that empowers members to drive excellence in health and achieve the highest value in healthcare delivery and the consumer experience. NEBGH employer/purchaser members cover 6 million lives in the U.S. and 10 million globally.