From questioning 23,376 employees across 82 companies, it has been found that 87 per cent of British workers have a “health age” older than their chronological age – with the average worker’s “health age” three years and ten months higher. The figures are mainly attributable to unhealthy lifestyles, according to BHC – an initiative from medical insurer VitalityHealth.
The study assessed how many years of their life a person may lose because of unhealthy living – considering a range of categories including BMI, blood pressure, alcohol, nutrition, exercise and mental illness.
Greg Levine, director of corporate healthcare at VitalityHealth, said: “If businesses are able to develop a culture in which wellness programmes are integrated into day-to-day life, the benefits for both employees and the company itself will be quickly realised.” Levine added that health is playing an increasingly important role in how businesses maximise both the productivity and happiness of their workforces, but the research shows, there are some areas across the UK where companies “need to do more”.
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The regional breakdown throws up some interesting numbers. London has been under recent scrutiny in terms of pollution concerns – all 50 of Britain’s worst blackspots for air pollution are in the capital, according to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Evening Standard. Here though, Londoners can celebrate coming out top as the healthiest employees in the UK. While 24 per cent of the capital’s employees are still at risk of a health issue, they top the tables in terms of nutrition, physical activity and BMI.
The North East however, has the highest proportion of employees – 31 per cent – at risk of developing health problems across a number of categories. Some 45 per cent aren’t doing enough physical activity, 26 per cent consume too much alcohol, 29 per cent have elevated blood pressure, while six per cent show symptoms of depression. The research also showed 22 per cent of employees in the North East had four or more risk factors that could affect their health.
Wales records the highest percentage of current or past smokers at 45 per cent, and is the least likely region to have had a health screen in the last year. A significant percentage, 88, admit to not having one in the past twelve months.
The UK’s least healthy employees by region:
1. North East
3. East Midlands
4. Yorkshire and the Humber
5. West Midlands
6. North West
7. Northern Ireland
8. South West
9. South East
11. East of England
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