How Employee Nutrition with Zipongo Completes Your Corporate Wellness Program

Health insurance premiums, copays, and deductibles have steadily increased year after year for decades. With the current uncertainty around healthcare legislation, the costs continue to mount.

Faced with rapidly rising healthcare costs, businesses who provide health insurance benefits face two equally unappealing options. They can either shift more cost onto employees, or take a hit to the bottom line.

Given that difficult choice, it’s easy to see why corporations are looking for a third option: investing in keeping employees healthy. Corporate wellness programs not only help lower healthcare costs, they also pay dividends in increased employee productivity and retention. These benefits together make a strong business case for employee wellness.

For a wellness program to be most effective, however, it needs to bring in an often-overlooked component: nutrition.

Why Add Employee Nutrition to Your Corporate Wellness Program?

We all make dozens of food choices every day. More than dozens, in fact: on average, each of us makes over two hundred food decisions. These choices add up over time to either promote health and wellness, or contribute to the development of chronic medical problems.

Nutrition-related chronic conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) account for 76% of all physician visits and 91% of all prescriptions filled. Simply put, poor nutrition is a leading driver of disease in the US:

Dietary Risks are the Leading Cause of Disease Burden
Source: Food Benefits Management: A New Solution to Get the Most out of Your Benefits Dollars White Paper

Not only is nutrition a key factor in reducing chronic illness, it’s also an indispensable factor in sustainable weight loss. In a 2014 study, The National Institute of Health compared diet and exercise programs to programs focusing on diet alone. They found that while exercise made a modest difference in a program’s effectiveness, diet was the chief driver of results.

It’s not hard to see why; exercise burns calories, but it’s all too easy to increase caloric intake to counterbalance the exercise. If you follow up a run on the treadmill with potato chips, you’ve already erased the gain.

This research points to why many corporate wellness programs fail to maintain improvements in employee health. Without a strong focus on nutrition, your program is missing the biggest opportunities to make a lasting difference.

Given these facts, it’s clear that wellness must include nutrition to have a measurable, sustainable impact. Granted, truly influencing not just the choices employees make, but also the way they think about nutrition, is a tall order. And it’s even more daunting given that people don’t like to be told what to eat. Once we sense the “Food Police” are coming, we dig in and resist.

It takes a new way of thinking about nutrition, partnered with novel uses of technology, to help employees navigate the hundreds of food choices they make each day. That’s where Zipongo comes in.

What is Zipongo?

Zipongo is a digital nutrition platform. Our platform’s mobile app and web interface sync with our database of nutrition data, thousands of recipes, and smart suggestion software. We use a wide array of data inputs, from surveys to medical histories, to create highly personalized recommendations for each user. It’s a constant companion for employees, helping to make healthy eating easy and effortless.

Here are the key features that make Zipongo so effective:

  • It’s pervasive, comprehensive, and mobile. Your employees eat when they’re not at work, of course. Zipongo travels with your staff at home, at work and on the go.
  • It’s convenient and practical. We know people have limited time and resources to devote to meal planning and prep. Our platform can help simplify the process through custom grocery lists, discounts on healthy food, and even connect employees with full meal delivery services.
  • It’s personalized and flexible. There are three key factors that determine the food choices we make: What we can eat (due to dietary restriction), what we should eat, and what we want to eat. These three factors vary widely from person to person. Zipongo hits all three, offering highly personalized recipes, grocery lists, and restaurant menu options. The recommendations can cover an entire household, too. Even if Bobby hates zucchini and Susie is a vegan, you can still bring the family together for dinner.

Behavioral Economics: How Zipongo Enables Healthy Eating

There are plenty of recipe sites, diet programs, and weight loss apps out there. These resources provide guidance on what to eat and what to avoid. But let’s be honest: Most of us already have a pretty good idea of what’s healthy. We know the difference between jelly beans and fresh strawberries. We’re not downing bacon cheeseburgers to up our vitamin intake.

Zipongo takes a different approach. Our platform is based on the principles of brain science as much as nutritional science. It’s about more than saying, “here’s what you should be eating”; we encourage understanding why you don’t eat that way already, and providing decision support throughout the day.

In other words, we make it as easy to eat super healthy as it currently is to eat unhealthily. By helping people understand the choices they make, and removing obstacles to making healthier choices, Zipongo encourages change over the long haul. Thanks to this behavioral approach, 75% of our corporate participants report they have developed healthier eating habits.

Here’s how Zipongo works.

Data Science for Personalization

The heart of our platform is a powerful database that enables a high level of personalization for each participant.  First, employees take a comprehensive nutrition quiz that covers eating habits, allergies, preferences, and more. 

NutriQuiz from ZipongoThis quiz is designed to be retaken at regular intervals to monitor progress.

Then, Zipongo works with leading biometrics service providers to collect biometrics on-site, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body composition. The platform uses this data to further fine-tune recommendations, creating a truly personalized experience for each employee.

Zipongo even connects with third-party providers like 23andMe to provide insight into the unique, optimal diet for each user. All this data helps Zipongo create customized meal plans, nutrition recommendations, and more.

Ease-of-Use Leads to High Adoption

To be truly effective, a nutrition program has to cover food choices throughout the day. A healthy meal or snack at work can easily be offset by a fast food dinner. So Zipongo works anywhere your employees are:

  • Healthy Eating at Home: Zipongo makes cooking meals simple and convenient, offering meal planning for employees and their entire household. It’s easy to cook meals the whole family can enjoy, with adjustable portions and substitutable ingredients. Employees can create a grocery list based on their meal plan, and even order groceries from delivery services like Instacart within the app.

  • Healthy Eating On the Go: Restaurants are one of the biggest danger zones for a healthy eater, with hidden calories and oversized portions galore. When a salad can have more calories than a steak dinner, it’s hard to make the best choices. Zipongo can analyze menu options and point to the healthiest options. Zipongo’s OrderWell app helps employees find healthy options in their area, and get delivery or takeout with just a few taps on a smartphone. OrderWell makes healthy eating as easy as ordering a pizza or hitting a fast food drive through.

  • Healthy Eating at Work: Zipongo connects with leading food service providers like Compass and Guckenheimer, making it easy to integrate the platform with your onsite cafes. With that integration, Zipongo can seamlessly highlight healthy choices, offer meal recommendations, and promote healthy snacking and hydration.

Watch this 60-second video to see Zipongo in action:

Robust Analytics for Measurement and Optimization

Helping people make healthier eating choices is an ongoing process. Your nutrition platform should make it easy to track progress and make well-informed decisions to improve over time. Zipongo provides a wealth of data to help you see how your program is performing and find opportunities to optimize. Here are the different types of data Zipongo manages:

Enrollment and Engagement

First, Zipongo works with customers to set ambitious but attainable program enrollment and engagement goals. We help you define what success looks like in the short, mid-range and long term time periods. Our customer marketing team uses this data to guide enrollment and onboarding efforts. In other words, our team uses Zipongo data to get your employees using the platform, and using it productively.

Usage and Dietary Improvement

Knowing how many users are signed up and whether or not they’re using the platform is a good first step, but what you really want to know is: are they eating better? That’s where NutriQuiz comes in.

NutriQuiz provides valuable insight into your employees’ current current eating habits vs. their ideal target. Employees take the quiz when they begin as part of Zipongo’s sign-up process. Through this tool, Zipongo learns about your employees’ eating habits to help personalize recommendations and identify where dietary improvements are needed.

Based on quiz results, employees are given a single NutriScore that provides employers with an incredibly simple way to track healthy eating habits of their population. As employees use Zipongo, they can check back in with the NutriQuiz at regular intervals, reporting how their food choices have changed. Checking employees’ NutriScore over time makes it easy to track progress.

On-Site Nutrition Analysis

Zipongo’s culinary analysis helps enterprises and their food service vendors optimize onsite cafe offerings to promote healthier meal choices at work. Conducting menu analysis allows us to recommend where offerings can be tweaked or swapped to improve overall variety and health.

If you choose to share cafeteria point-of-sale data with Zipongo, you can take your analytics to the next level. We can overlay cafeteria sales with program engagement metrics to show how Zipongo is driving healthier food purchases in your facility.

Zipongo Is an Essential Part of a Sustainable, Strategic Corporate Wellness Program

Corporate wellness programs can help reduce healthcare costs, increase employee productivity, and boost morale. But a wellness program without a comprehensive approach to nutrition misses the single biggest opportunity to truly make a difference.

We all make over 200 food choices every day. Zipongo can help guide your employees through every single one. Contact us today to see what Zipongo can do for you.