Yesterday, PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute released a report that paints a bleak picture of an increasingly sedentary global work force and a rising tide of chronic diseases that are taking a toll on corporate productivity and profits. The good news is that business leaders appear to be among those in the vanguard in combating the growing and costly threat of chronic disease, which is debilitating workers and sapping productivity. The report notes that the world now has more people who are overweight than hungry and that poor diet, lack of physical activity, stress, and smoking are the biggest contributing factors to chronic disease. The U.S. has the dubious distinction of winning the global fatness award, with more than half of all adults overweight or obese.
The PwC report documents some of the business costs of chronic disease, and suggests that wellness programs are increasingly favored as a strategy to mitigate risk:
” … PwC examines the challenges facing businesses as a consequence of the growing epidemic of chronic disease, and found that approximately 2 percent of capital spent on workforce is lost to disability, absenteeism and presenteeism (in other words, diminished productivity from ill employees who go to work but work below par) due to chronic disease. Combined, these indirect costs are more than the additional direct medical claim costs that some employers incur. In contrast, corporate wellness programs have been shown to provide a 3-to-1 return on investment.
“There are quantifiable benefits from using wellness programs to attract and retain talented, healthy employees,” said Simon Leary, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the UK firm of PwC and Health Research Institute Leader for United Kingdom/Europe. “You can improve the health and well-being of your workers while also bolstering your bottom line. The economic case for prevention is overwhelming.”
Download a free copy of the full report, Working Towards Wellness: Accelerating the prevention of chronic disease. Free registration is required.
For more resources on preventing chronic disease, you may want to familiarize yourself with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. NACDD is a public health association comprised of chronic disease program directors of each state and U.S. territory. It was founded in 1988 to provide a national forum for chronic disease prevention, with the intent of mobilizing national efforts to reduce chronic diseases and the associated risk factors. Some of the specific conditions that the organization targets include arthritis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, health disparities, healthy aging, osteoporosis and obesity.
In addition to offering a variety of newsletters, reports, and case histories of success stories, the site provides an invaluable directory of Chronic Disease Resources – a great page for HR directors to bookmark – we’ve added it to growing list of links in the sidebar.