Companies offering employees genetic tests to combat obesity, breast cancer

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Employers want workers to know what’s in their genes.

A handful of firms are offering employees free or subsidized tests for genetic markers associated with metabolism, weight gain and overeating, while companies such as Visa Inc., Slack Technologies Inc., Instacart Inc. recently began offering workers subsidized tests for genetic mutations linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

The programs provide employees with potentially life-saving information and offer counseling and coaching to prevent health problems down the road, benefits managers say.

Screening for genetic markers linked to obesity is the latest front in companies’ war on workers’ weight woes.

Obesity-related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes comprise a large share of overall health-care costs, estimated to run more than $12,000 a worker this year, according to a recent survey from Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health.

Employers are hoping to help bend the cost curve — and make their workers healthier — by more aggressively targeting obesity and coaxing workers to lose weight.

Though employers tout genetic tests as a perk for their workforce, health advocates raise concerns about privacy and the potential for illegal discrimination based on employees’ genetic information. They add that workers may fear their genetic information will end up in the boss’s hands.

Read full, original post: Genetic Testing May Be Coming to Your Office

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