Aetna Launches New Programs Designed to Help Reduce Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors

Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:08am EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

HARTFORD, Conn.--(Business Wire)--
Aetna (NYSE: AET) today announced the launch of "Metabolic Health in Small
Bytes" and the "Metabolic Health Advisor." The two new components can help
people control the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. 

Affecting one in four adults in the U.S., metabolic syndrome is one of the
fastest growing health issues. Metabolic Syndrome is a grouping of five risk
factors - large waist size, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL
(`good`) cholesterol and high blood sugar - that may occur together. An adult
with three or more of these risk factors is twice as likely to develop heart
disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as a person who does not
have metabolic syndrome.1 In addition, health care costs go up 25 percent with
each added risk factor. 

Metabolic Health in Small Bytes is an evidence-based, online program that was
part of a recent Aetna research study with Duke Diet and Fitness, Duke
Integrative Medicine and eMindful. The study measured the effectiveness of an
integrative (physiologic and mind-body focused) clinical weight management
program with variations on program delivery. In 2011, more than 600 Aetna
employees participated in the 10-week study and were randomly assigned to one of
five groups. 

Early Aetna data showed favorable results for weight loss and stress reduction
with employees who participated in any of the weekly Metabolic Health in Small
Bytes groups. These participants also showed improvements in physical activity
and productivity. Full results of the pilot program will be available later this
year after the data is studied by Duke academicians and Aetna. 

"We already have a number of programs that help identify members with metabolic
syndrome and direct them to resources that can help, like lifestyle coaching and
disease management programs. Our new metabolic syndrome solutions will help
educate members on the issue, offer programs to support them and provide
incentive opportunities to encourage healthy behaviors," said Susan Kosman,
R.N., chief nursing officer for Aetna. "This all inclusive approach gives
employers a unique option to help their employees live healthier, while also
helping to reduce their organization`s health care costs." 

Program Based on Demonstrated Results

Metabolic Health in Small Bytes uses a virtual classroom technology, where
participants can interact with each other and the instructor. All of the program
instructors have completed a program outlined by lead program developer Ruth
Wolever, PhD from Duke Diet and Fitness Center and Duke Integrative Medicine.
Using mindfulness techniques from the program, participants learn practices they
can use to combat the root causes of obesity. The program`s goal is to help
participants better understand their emotional state, enhance their knowledge of
how to improve exercise and nutrition, and access internal motivation to do so. 

Employers can choose a program option with monthly classes for employees, a more
intensive option with weekly classes, or a combined approach. 

Metabolic Health in Small Bytes expands Aetna`s use of mindfulness techniques in
wellness programs. Aetna previously worked with Wolever at Duke Integrative
Medicine and eMindful to test two mind-body stress reductions programs -
Mindfulness at Work (mindfulness meditation) and Viniyoga Stress Reduction
(therapeutic Viniyoga). Available to commercial employers, these two programs
have been demonstrated to help participants significantly reduce their perceived
stress levels while improving their ability to respond to stress both mentally
and physically. 

Metabolic Health Advisor

Many people may not be aware that they have Metabolic Syndrome. Aetna created
"ALEX®" - the interactive Metabolic Health Advisor - to help encourage members
to receive a screening test for this condition. The tool can also help members
better understand the results of the test and ways they can lower their risk

ALEX, a virtual host, asks questions in a friendly and conversational manner.
Based on the responses, he provides personalized input on what changes will
benefit that individual the most. The suggested changes are based on information
from Aetna medical directors, nurses, health coaches and dieticians. 

The Jellyvision Lab helped create the Metabolic Health Advisor. Aetna worked
with the Jellyvision Lab previously to create "David," the Aetna Benefits
AdvisorSM. More than 99 percent of Aetna members who used David describe him as
being helpful in picking their benefits. David has also received the top
national award from the Center for Plain Language the past two years. 

Both new metabolic syndrome programs are available to Aetna`s commercial
customers in National Accounts, Middle Market, and Public and Labor segments. 

About Duke Integrative Medicine

Duke Integrative Medicine is a portal to the vast spectrum of scientific
advances at Duke Medicine, and a gateway to patients` optimal health and
healing. The focus of patient care is on cutting-edge medical research and
evidence based complementary therapies. Experts partner with patients --
providing treatments, resources, time and support -- so they can address and
plan for all their health needs and goals. Duke Integrative Medicine also has
comprehensive programs that focus on Professional Education, Research, and
Medical Education. For more information, see 

About Duke Diet and Fitness Center

The Duke Diet and Fitness Center is the only residential-style weight loss/
lifestyle change program in the nation that is part of an academic medical
center. Its multidisciplinary focus not only helps patients lose weight while
they are at the Center, but furnishes them with tools that facilitate continued
weight loss when they return home. 

About eMindful

eMindful provides evidence-based wellness programs for managing stress, weight
loss and chronic disease, areas of significant cost and productivity loss for
employers. It is the only company delivering live, interactive, mind-body
programs in online classrooms. An independent third-party assessment instrument
has consistently validated a return on investment of 11:1 during the first year
for employers adopting eMindful`s curriculums. The company`s programs are
designed to scale rapidly and can be deployed within 45 days to any client,
large or small, around the world. 

For more information, visit For a short video showing how
eMindful helps employers, visit 

About The Jellyvision Lab

If your company website has a lot to say and is currently doing it in a way
that`s too technical or filled with corporate jargon, marketing speak,
impersonalized FAQs, and outsourced sales reps referring to massive binders of
robotic text, then you should seriously consider calling The Jellyvision Lab
today. For more information and sample work, visit 

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies,
serving approximately 37.3 million people with information and resources to help
them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a
broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance
products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral
health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities,
Medicaid health care management services and health information technology
services. Aetna`s customers include employer groups, individuals, college
students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers,
governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates.
For more information, see 

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (November 3, 2011). "What is
metabolic syndrome?" National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved from

Ethan Slavin, 860-273-6095

Copyright Business Wire 2013

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