MILWAUKEE -- In Milwaukee County, 40 percent of people are at high risk of developing diabetes and may not even know it. And, a growing number of local employers are making a new effort to change that.
Each employer at the "Diabetes in the Workplace Summit" in Milwaukee is looking for new ways to keep its workers healthy.
"All of our associates engaged in our programs are losing weight and becoming more active, so that, in and of itself, is hard to achieve," said Colleen Kristbaum, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.
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According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, it is upwards of $1.2 billion in Milwaukee County alone.
"It is partly lifestyle, but it is partly hereditary too," said Kristbaum.
The summit, hosted by Well City Milwaukee, a workplace wellness initiative dedicated to creating a healthy and vibrant workforce in the greater Milwaukee area, connects employers with community resources to deal with the disease.
"There are measurable steps that can be met with unmeasurable, unlimited support in the community," said Laura Rooney, VP for Healthy Living YMCA.
This is where employers are brainstorming ways they can create a healthier workplace and prevent diabetes. Some of the ideas that have been brought up are to remove vending machines from the workplace or to build stretch breaks into meetings.
"They have implemented some awareness building campaigns, they have started educating their employees," said Gail Bennett, Director of Well City Milwaukee