Healthy behaviors workplace wellness

Study: Clustering ‘Health-Related Behaviors’ Helps Prevent Chronic Disease

We have reported on the health benefits and cost reductions that come from a well-run workplace wellness program that helps employees prevent (or even manage) chronic disease.

One report we noted is titled “Strategies for Worksite Health Interventions to Employees with Elevated Risk of Chronic Diseases.”

The authors state: “Most employees spend more than one-third of their day at the worksite. This has resulted in a modern workforce that has become increasingly sedentary over the past 60 years. Excessive sedentary behavior is an independent risk factor for multiple chronic health outcomes including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. In addition, job strain at the workplace is also associated with the development of cardiovascular disease. Nearly 70% of American adults are classified as overweight or obese, and it is estimated that 133 million Americans have at least one chronic health condition. This high rate of chronic disease has resulted in increased mortality rates and has become a public health challenge associated with higher health care costs and decreased workplace productivity.”

Now a study 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.

It begins: “Five key health-related behaviors for chronic disease prevention are never smoking, getting regular physical activity, consuming no alcohol or only moderate amounts, maintaining a normal body weight, and obtaining daily sufficient sleep. The objective of this study was to estimate the clustering of these 5 health-related behaviors among adults aged 21 years or older in each state and the District of Columbia and to assess geographic variation in clustering.”

The results: “Among US adults, 81.6% were current nonsmokers, 63.9% obtained 7 hours or more sleep per day, 63.1% reported moderate or no alcohol consumption, 50.4% met physical activity recommendations, and 32.5% had a normal BMI. Only 1.4% of respondents engaged in none of the 5 behaviors; 8.4%, 1 behavior; 24.3%, 2 behaviors; 35.4%, 3 behaviors; and 24.3%, 4 behaviors; only 6.3% reported engaging in all 5 behaviors.”

And the conclusion is clear — and meaningful — for employers considering a well-run workplace wellness program: Finding ways to encourage employees to cluster multiple health-related behaviors can help address chronic disease and health costs.

The authors write: “Additional efforts are needed to increase the proportion of the population that engages in all 5 health-related behaviors and to eliminate geographic variation. Collaborative efforts in health care systems, communities, work sites, and schools can promote all 5 behaviors and produce population-wide changes, especially among the socioeconomically disadvantaged.”