As obesity rates continue to rise, is the workplace a source of or solution to unhealthy lifestyle habits?
A survey released today found that 72 percent of American workers eat an unhealthy snack at least once a week while at work.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2007
Terri Erlenbach 614.249.5755
Columbus, Ohio – A survey of American workers released today by Nationwide Better HealthSM, a leading provider of total population health and productivity management solutions, found that many employees may not eat as healthy or remain as active as they could while at work and employers could certainly be doing more to encourage healthy habits.
The survey found that employees generally believe they are making healthy choices at work and remaining active during the day. However, studies demonstrate a strong disconnect between employees’ perceptions versus the reality of a growing obesity epidemic. According to a recent study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the incidence of obesity in American adults is set to rise over the next eight years, with around 75 percent of Americans falling into the “overweight” category by 2015. And, in 2006, the Centers for Disease Control found obese employees miss work almost twice as much as other workers, costing employers about $4 billion annually and even more in lost productivity.
Employers can help put an end to these alarming trends by transforming the workplace into a culture of health. Enhancements employers can make with their health and wellness offerings can create a huge impact in the well-being of their employees, who can use the workplace as a source of maintaining good health.
“It’s encouraging to see that employees are trying to lead healthier lives at work but, as the numbers show, this is not enough to remedy the obesity epidemic. The keys to maintaining the best health possible and preventing obesity and related illnesses are education and motivation,” said Dr. Neil Gordon, a preventive medicine physician and Nationwide Better Health’s chief medical and science officer. “Leading a healthy lifestyle is crucial to long-term weight management – and even small changes can make a big difference when it comes to health and productivity.”
Key survey findings include:
Mid-afternoon Vending Machine Break
• Almost three-quarters of employees surveyed (72 percent) eat an unhealthy snack (chips, candy, etc.) at work at least once a week and a little more than a quarter (27 percent) eat an unhealthy snack three or more times a week – and this doesn’t take into account breakfast, lunch or dinner
• 22 percent of Gen Y (18-27 years of age), compared to 9 percent of Baby Boomers (45+ years of age) and 13 percent of Gen X (28-44 years of age), eat an unhealthy snack more than five times a week
• Only 42 percent of employees are provided with healthy food selections in their cafeterias or vending machines
The Ball and Chain?
• More than one-third of employees (34 percent) say their jobs require them to remain at their desks for the majority of the day
• Gen X spent the most time at their desks, with 40 percent reporting they remain at their desks the majority of the work day, while only 27 percent of Gen Y and 30 percent of Baby Boomers said they spent their days at their desks
• 38 percent of workers agreed that work-related stress leads to bad eating habits
• Gen X was the most likely to allow stress to affect their diets with 45 percent stating that their jobs impacted their eating habits (only 35 percent of Gen Y and 32 percent of Baby Boomers felt the same)
• 48 percent of females, compared to 32 percent of males, said stress leads to worse eating habits
• 66 percent say they would participate in gym memberships, nutrition education and weight management programs if their employer offered them
• 74 percent of females said they would take advantage of such programs as compared to 60 percent of males
“Companies can provide resources that encourage their employees to eat well, stay active and, in short, live the best life possible,” said Dr. Gordon. “These resources could not only help reduce health care spending for both employees and employers, but they could also help improve productivity.”
Nationwide Better Health recently introduced a new obesity management program designed to help employees who meet the criteria for obesity or morbid obesity (a body mass index of 30 or more). This program is especially beneficial for people who have obesity-related health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
The survey results are based upon telephone interviews conducted among a national probability sample of 2,063 adults, comprised of 1,018 men and 1,045 women, 18 years of age and older and employed full-time. Interviews were conducted by Opinion Research Corporation between July 19-23, 2007. The margin of error is approximately plus or minus 5 percent. A copy of the survey questionnaire and results are available upon request.
About Nationwide Better Health
Nationwide Better HealthSM, a subsidiary of Nationwide®, is a leading provider of health and productivity management solutions aimed at lowering health care costs, increasing productivity and improving the quality of life for employers and their employees. Nationwide Better Health is the first company to truly integrate the best collection of health and productivity services available today, including health and wellness, and obesity, disease, disability, absence, medical and maternity management, while utilizing health assessments, work-site screenings, lifestyle health coaching services, online tools and customized communications and incentive management strategies to obtain best-in-class results for improving health and productivity in the workplace. The company’s offerings work together and independently to address both sides of the cost equation: increased efficiency of health and productivity programs and better employee health and well-being to reduce health care-related costs. For more information, call 866.404.6924 or visit: www.nwbetterhealth.com.
Nationwide, the Nationwide framemark and On Your Side are federally registered service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. Nationwide Better Health is a service mark of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.