*This article was last updated September 2020.
At Vermeer corporate headquarters in Pella, Iowa, Benefits Manager Teresa Hovell was getting worried. “We’d been watching our health claims related to metabolic syndrome, obesity, poor nutrition, and lack of physical activity increase over the last couple of years,” Hovell said.
Diabetes had become Vermeer’s top claim expense, and when she reviewed claims data for the first half of 2017 compared to the first half of 2016, Hovell saw a 204 percent increase in claims costs related to metabolic syndrome and heart conditions.
She knew Vermeer had to do something.
Vermeer’s Naturally Slim program Story
Melanie Ellsworth, senior executive account manager, Iowa group sales at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, introduced Vermeer to Naturally Slim®. “We’re always talking to our groups about how their costs are increasing and how it’s due to obesity and metabolic syndrome,” Ellsworth said.
“Naturally Slim is a good fit, because it gives employers a solution they can provide their employees with to improve their health." Naturally Slim is a simple, behavioral-based solution based on new understanding of what slim people do naturally. “It’s about portion control, keeping your blood sugar even, enjoying your food and not just eating without any thought,” Ellsworth said. “It’s a program that allows people to learn a lifelong, healthy eating strategy while eating what they want.”
And, it’s helped Vermeer employees in a big way.
One participant, Bryan Harthoorn, was a severely overweight, Type 2 diabetic who did not live a very active lifestyle. “It felt like I was kind of going through the motions of life,” Harthoorn said. He says Naturally Slim has changed the way he goes through each day.
Another participant, Cindy Verschuure, didn’t realize she ate so quickly. As a result, she thought about food quite often and couldn’t get satisfied when she ate, causing her to overeat and gain weight. “With the techniques the program has taught us, I’ve realized that you want to sit and chew and enjoy your food,” Verschuure said. “Instead of the food controlling me, I’m in control of the food now.”
Another participant, Jeremy Eckert, used to struggle if he walked too far — now, he averages more than 18,000 steps a day.
Vermeer employees are forever grateful that their company chose to invest in their physical health and well-being. “It’s worth it to them to see us healthier and happier,” Eckert said. The investment paid off for Vermeer, too — research External Site shows that when employees believe the company cares about employee well-being, they’re three times more likely to go the extra mile. Employees who completed the 10-week course have continued with reinforcement and maintenance courses to help them build healthy eating habits for life.
Out of 53 Vermeer employees who participated in this Naturally Slim program, 89 percent completed the ten-week foundation phase. Another 72 percent lowered their diabetes risk and 62 percent lost more than ten pounds.
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