Grant targets municipal employees

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A UGA public health researcher has received a $3 million, five-year grant to fund a six-month weight management program aimed at reducing caloric intake and bolstering physical activity among employees of municipal governments in Georgia. Mark Wilson, head of the department of health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health, will use the grant to test different versions of a diabetes prevention program in workplace settings. Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the grant will enable Wilson to implement three separate diabetes prevention programs in Athens-Clarke County, Columbus and Macon. Wilson notes the correlation of the increase in overweight Americans and the rise in the number of instances of type II diabetes. The more diabetics in the workplace, the more treatment and medication required to manage the disease. As a result, many organizations have seen their health-care costs increase in the past three decades. Additionally, Wilson said overweight workers in labor-intensive environments are more injury-prone—particularly to neck and back injuries—which further drives up costs to the employer.