chronic disease workplace wellness

Data: Musculoskeletal Disorders Dominate Workplace Health

The health costs from obesity and lack of exercise — two areas where a well-run workplace wellness program can help employees improve health and businesses reduce costs — are well documented.

For example, we’ve noted the Gallup report that “Obese adults between the ages of 25 and 64 are at least four times more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes than those who are normal weight… By their mid-to-late 30s, 9.3% of adults who are obese have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with 1.8% among those who are normal weight.”

Further, as we’ve reported, the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health takes an additional view: The role of obesity on the work itself — which brings focus the the business case that supports a well-run workplace wellness program.

The report is titled “Overweight and obesity are progressively associated with lower work ability in the general working population: cross-sectional study among 10,000 adults.” The conclusion was clear: “BMIs above the normal range are progressively associated with lower work ability in relation to the physical demands of the job, especially among individuals with mainly sedentary work.”

Now Workplace Insights reports that “according to an analysis of the private medical insurance (PMI) records of over 45,000 UK employees carried out by Aon Employee Benefits with its largest clients, the highest claims are for musculoskeletal disorders- almost double those for cancer related illness.”

And once again, obesity and lack of exercise may be at the root cause.

Said Martha How, principal at Aon Employee Benefits: “Sedentary work and bad posture at work may be contributory factors, as the population covered in these four clients is predominantly white collar with a large proportion of office-based workers. With this in mind, it is not surprising that so many corporate wellbeing initiatives focus on fitness, diet and lifestyle, especially as future claims are expected to be driven by primarily lifestyle-related risks: high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and physical inactivity.”