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Extra pounds may mean higher insurance costs

Extra pounds may mean higher insurance costs

Alabama, pushed to second in national obesity rankings by deep-fried Southern favorites, is cracking down on state workers who are too fat.
The state has given its 37,527 employees a year to start getting fit _ or they'll pay $25 a month for insurance that otherwise is free.
Alabama will be the first U.S. state to impose a surcharge on overweight state workers who do not work on slimming down. A handful of other states reward employees who adopt healthy behaviors.
Alabama already charges workers who smoke _ and has seen some success in getting them to quit _ but now has turned its attention to a problem that plagues many in the U.S. South: obesity.
The State Employees' Insurance Board this week approved a plan to charge state workers starting in January 2010 if they don't have free health screenings.
If the screenings turn up serious problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose or obesity, employees will have a year to see a doctor at no cost, enroll in a wellness program, or take steps on their own to improve their health.
If they show progress in a follow-up screening, they won't be charged. But if they don't, they must pay starting in January 2011.
"We are trying to get individuals to become more aware of their health," said state worker Robert Wagstaff, who serves on the insurance board.
Government statistics show Alabamians have a big weight problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.3 percent are now obese, ranking the state behind only Mississippi.