Alabama Gets Tough on Obese Workers

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Some workers in Alabama may have to bypass the burger and fries. The state is planning to crack down on state employees who are too fat.

Thanks to a new plan approved by the State Employees' Insurance Board, Alabama's 37,527 workers have a year to get in better shape - otherwise they will have to pay an extra $25 a month for insurance.

"We are trying to get individuals to become more aware of their health," said state worker Robert Wagstaff, who serves on the board.

Starting in January 2010, Alabama will be charging employees who refuse to have free health screenings.

Should the screenings uncover serious issues involving blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, or obesity the worker will be given a year to see a doctor - at no charge - enroll in a wellness program, or embark on their own personal fitness regimen.

If a follow-up screening shows progress, no fee will be charged. However, if problems persist, they must begin paying in January 2011.

Alabama is already plagued by one of the highest obesity rates in the nation. So state officials say this is one way for individuals to become more aware of their health.

Some workers are offended by the new plan.

"It's terrible," said health department employee Chequla Motley. "Some people come into this world big."

Still experts say this will benefit their health in the long run. Mac McArthur, executive director of Alabama State Employees Association, insisted that the plan is not intended as a punitive measure.

"It's a positive," McArthur said.

Source: The Associated Press

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