Addressing Chronic Disease in the Workplace

Addressing Chronic Disease in the Workplace

Although it is difficult to know where to start, an article by Thorpe suggests that managers may find success in focusing on obesity, as “Health spending is reportedly 36% higher in obese adults under the age of sixty-five than in normal weight adults.” (Thorpe et al., 2004) Most of this higher spending is due to “treatments for diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and heart disease.” (Thorpe et al., 2004)

Nutrition is another category that can reduce the effects of chronic diseases in the workforce. Mhurchu suggests that employers who provide healthy food in vending machines or cafeterias have experienced positive effects on CVD risk factors. (Mhurchu, Aston, & Jebb, 2010) Employers are encouraged to create a formal policy to make “vegetables, fruits, 100% fruit juices, whole-grain items and trans fat free – low sodium snacks available in vending machines.” (CDC, 2014) Company policies can also make healthier foods available during meetings or employee “pitch ins.”

Physical activity can help employees reduce the amount of chronic disease in the workplace. A study by the Centers for Disease Control, the Brownson School of Public Health in St. Louis, and others, states that physical activity has many health benefits, “including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes, colon cancers, osteoporosis, depression, and fall-related injuries. (Kahn, Ramsey, Brownson, et al, 2002) The article continues by stating that “despite the benefits of regular physical activity, only 25% of adults in the United States report engaging in the recommended amounts of physical activity.” (Kahn et al., 2002)

Weight management efforts can help the financial aspects of organizations’ wellness plans, as obese adults incur medical expenses that are 36% to 37.4% higher than those of normal weight adults, due to more office visits, hospital care, and prescription drugs. (Boardley & Pobocik, 2009) Obesity can affect both the quality and length of life and an obese person can have an 8% to 22% reduction in length of life. (MacDonald & Westover, 2011) 

From Growing a Healthy Workforce: Leading in The Eight Dimensions of Organizational Wellness

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