Local governments are hoping they can cope with escalating health coverage costs with programs tackling conditions such as obesity and heart disease.

Researchers at the International City/County Management Association, Washington, and the health insurance arm of CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia, have published figures concerning those hopes in a summary of results from a recent survey of 2,200 local government benefits managers.

About 51% of the survey participants identified obesity as one of the top health concerns, and 42% identified heart disease as a top concern.

Today, only about 40% of local governments offer health risk assessments, 33% use condition management programs, and 27% reward employees for participating in wellness programs.

Within the next 5 years, another 24% plan to add health risk assessments, 21% plan to add wellness participation incentive programs, and 20% plan to add condition management programs, the researchers report.