The evidence has always been anecdotal. The evidence has also sometimes been pointed in the right direction, but not the direction researchers want to see – they want to see proof that participation in wellness programs actually improves blood pressure, sugar levels, etc.
The latest “downer” is a report by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which looked at the experience of 33,000 employees at BJ’s Wholesale Club over a year and a half. The findings were that, despite exercise and weight watching, the employees experienced no significant long-term outcomes like lower blood pressure or improved sugar levels. This adds to the recent Illinois Workplace Study, which also questioned the value of workplace wellness programs. Proponents, of course, say that the JAMA study did not focus on enough variables, that not all programs are the same, and that education is not sufficient, especially given the often-irrational behavior attributed to everyone that can also defy measurement.
So what happens to all the dollars spent on FitBits, Apple Watches and all the other buddy systems we need to keep us healthy? It will require more research!