When it comes to wellness, especially diabetes prevention, Maurice Saliba does more than walk his talk – he’s gotten hundreds of people to walk it as well.
In 2008, he led 300 people in and near his hometown of Cleveland, TN, in what he called a “mission of motivation, education and exercise.” Two years later, some 600 people had lost more than five tons – and nearly 20 percent of those folks were able to either quit or cut back on medications.
Then he tried a two-year program at a giant carpet manufacturer just south of Chattanooga, where 1,200 people lost nearly 8,000 pounds in two years. And in the first six months of 2016, Saliba helped 133 staffers at Chattanooga, TN, EPB lose about 1,000 pounds.
And now Saliba is teaming up with TVPPA Education & Training Services with an eye toward helping member-utility staff not only lose weight but, far more importantly, prevent diabetes. Saliba, who’s certified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to teach diabetes prevention, is working with TVPPA E & T on a date for a one-day class on that topic.
“The CDC estimates that one of three Americans is pre-diabetic,” said Saliba.
“That’s 86 million Americans, and half of all Americans over 60 are pre-diabetic.
“We now have kids in this country as young as 14 who are diabetic, and some of those kids are likely to pass away before their parents do,” he said.
Saliba, a former gym and health-club owner who’s made wellness his life’s work, is passionate about not only preventing diabetes generally, but helping employers understand what works and what doesn’t.
“I want employers to understand,” he said, “that you can’t just offer gym memberships and call that a wellness program. I want to talk to [Human Resources] administrators about why preventing diabetes should be the No. 1 focus if they want to lower their organizations’ health-care costs.”
Those costs, according to Saliba, are nothing less than jaw-dropping.
“The CDC has determined that diabetes is the costliest disease,” he said. “The average annual health-care cost for a non-diabetic individual is $2,200. That cost for a pre-diabetic individual is $4,700 – a 100-percent-plus jump.”
“The cost for a full-blown diabetic is $11,700, and a full-blown diabetic who doesn’t get treatment will cost his or her company more than $17,000 in a given year,” Saliba said.
E & T will announce the date of Saliba’s class, which will be geared for TVPPA-member HR professionals, as soon as that date is official.