CDC awards $9 million for workplace health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday awarded $9 million to promote workplace health programs across the nation. 

The grant is funded under the healthcare reform law. It will support an Arizona-based health management company tasked with helping 70 to 100 employers of various sizes develop or expand their workplace health programs.

"Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other long-term health problems increase health care costs and decrease productivity, eroding the bottom line of American businesses," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in announcing the grant. "This new initiative will help companies of all sizes implement strategies to improve employee health, which will help contain health costs for employers and make for a healthier, more productive American workforce."

The two-year effort spearheaded by Viridian Health Management aims to encourage employees to get engaged in the workplace programs, which can include tobacco-free campus policies, promoting work schedules that allow employees to be more physically active and offering more healthy food choices in worksite cafeterias and vending machines. The program will be evaluated by North Carolina's Research Triangle Institute, which will examine changes in employee knowledge and behavior and increased productivity through decreased absenteeism.