Health risk factors workplace wellness

Strategies to Increase Clustering of Health-Related Behaviors

Yesterday we reported on a study that reviews whether increasing the number of healthy behaviors one employs — a term called “clustering” — can help with chronic disease prevention.

The study is titled “Clustering of Five Health-Related Behaviors for Chronic Disease Prevention Among Adults” and is published in the Preventing Chronic Disease Journal.

The study does an outstanding job in outlining for businesses the powerful impact that increasing the number of healthy behaviors can have on employee health — and, potentially, cost reduction.

Given the work’s compelling nature, we want to offer more insights from the study:

This study is a long time coming: “This study is the first to describe distributions of the 5 health-related behaviors, including sufficient sleep, related to Healthy People 2020 objectives since the Alameda County Study of 1982, which demonstrated lower mortality risk among adults with these behaviors and disparities among racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups.”

Unfortunately, it seems not enough has improved over the last 30 years: “Our results confirmed that these disparities persisted after 3 decades.”

More evidence: “We also found that most US adults did not meet recommendations for aerobic physical activity or did not have a normal BMI. Overall, only 6.3% of the adult population reported engaging in all 5 health-related behaviors in 2013.”

Geography matters. As we’ve noted from other work, people in certain U.S. regions maintain better health than in other regions: “This study demonstrates a higher percentage of 5 health-related behaviors in the Pacific and Rocky Mountain states than in southern states.”

Workplace wellness matters. The study notes several strategies that should be employed to help increase the clustering of health-related behaviors. Some start with childhood. But the workplace plays a key role: “Evidence-based environmental approaches in communities, work sites, and schools include providing access to facilities and opportunities to promote lifestyle changes and promoting policies that support and reinforce health practices.”