First of two Fit City Coalition breakfasts at UTHSCT offers ways to help businesses launch workplace wellness programs

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

About 25 area business people heard how employee wellness programs can improve workers’ health and save employers money during a Fit City Coalition-sponsored breakfast held Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler.

Roughly 29 percent of Texans are obese, and the numbers are increasing, said George Roberts, chief executive officer of the Northeast Texas Public Health District. That means more people are at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.

“If trends continue, one-third of the kids born in 2000 will develop type II diabetes during their lifetimes,” he added.

But businesses and employers can take steps to combat obesity and protect their bottom line by setting up low-cost and effective employee wellness initiatives.

“For every $1 invested in workplace wellness programs, you can save from $4 to $6 in reduced health-care costs, absenteeism, and increased productivity,” Roberts said, citing several studies.

Other speakers included UTHSCT President Dr. Kirk Calhoun, Tyler Morning Telegraph Publisher Nelson Clyde, and Tanya Hicks of the American Heart Association. Shown in the photo above are (left to right) George Roberts, chief executive officer of the Northeast Texas Public Health District; Dave Berry, editor of the Tyler Morning Telegraph; Chris Taylor, wellness coordinator at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler; Dr. Calhoun; and Clyde.

“The Fit City initiative has done so much to focus the community on issues of health. I believe that this will result in lives saved and improve health throughout Tyler and Northeast Texas,” Dr. Calhoun said after the breakfast.

“It was a real pleasure for UTHSCT to have employers come and spend the morning with us and discuss ways to improve the health of their employees,” he said.

Ms. Hicks talked about the heart association’s Start! campaign, designed to help Americans live longer, heart-healthier lives through better nutrition, walking, and other physical activities. She outlined how to apply to the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Recognition Program, which recognizes employers who create physical activity programs in the workplace.

Information about these programs is available on the American Heart Association website.

This was the first of two breakfasts sponsored by the Fit City Coalition and the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce designed to encourage businesses to establish employee wellness programs. The second one is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 21, at UTHSCT, located at the intersection of Texas 155 and U.S. 271.

Reservations for the breakfast are required and seating is limited. To make a reservation, contact Chris Taylor, UTHSCT wellness coordinator and a member of the Fit City Coalition Steering Committee, at 903-877-7575, or

For 60 years, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. UTHSCT’s annual operating budget of $125 million represents a major economic impact of over $287 million to the Northeast Texas region. In FY 2009, scientists in the Center for Biomedical Research were awarded 80 competitive grants and contracts totaling $14.6 million. As the academic medical center for Northeast Texas, its graduate medical education program – with residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities throughout the region and beyond.

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.