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CIGNA Worksite Wellness Program Takes Aim At Metabolic Syndrome

CIGNA has added a new worksite lifestyle improvement program, Metabolic Syndrome Improvement Program (MSIP), to help people combat metabolic syndrome, a condition significantly increasing the risk of an individual developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The intensive, 90-day program is designed to help people increase physical activity, eat better, lose weight and reduce stress. One of the key elements is access to a social networking site that gives participants an opportunity to share their experiences and keep one another motivated toward making healthy behavior changes.

Individuals are considered to have metabolic syndrome if they have three or more risk factors – weight, good cholesterol, blood pressure and elevated fasting blood sugar as determined by numbers. For example, elevated blood pressure of 130/85 or higher, or a triglyceride count of 150 or higher puts the individual at risk.

Program participants record their numbers at the beginning and end of the program so they can monitor their own progress as they reach desired numbers.

"These types of programs have the potential to reduce the risk for two of the nation’s leading causes of death – diabetes and heart disease," said Dr. David M. Kendall, chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association.

MSIP consists of weekly one-hour sessions for 35 to 50 participants facilitated by a health advocate at an employer’s worksite, although sessions can also be delivered online.

The facilitator helps participants understand the relationship between lifestyle and chronic disease and helps them learn to make healthy choices related to carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Some sessions focus on making those choices at the supermarket or when dining out, while other sessions focus on cardiovascular activity, strength training and stress management. Participants also have access to additional online learning modules at any time. They also receive a workbook with motivational articles, health tips, check lists and homework assignments.

In the workplace employees with MSIP spend four times as much on medication and miss twice as many days of work due to illness compared to their healthier co-workers.

MSIP "delivers a holistic experience that addresses several key health risks that, taken together, can lead to long-term, life-changing health consequences," said Tom Richards, senior vice president and product leader for CIGNA. It offers "people an opportunity to improve their health, well-being and sense of security."

Address: CIGNA, Two Liberty Place, 1601 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19192; (215) 761-1000,

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