heightens workplace wellness

Study: Heart Disease Findings Heightens Reasons for Employee Wellness Engagement

Yesterday we reported on a new study from JAMA Cardiology that heightens the focus on why a well-run workplace wellness plan that helps employees manage obesity is key to improving employee health and reducing employer health costs. Today we take a deeper dive.

The report is titled Association of Body Mass Index With Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Compression of Morbidity. According to the authors, the study’s importance is that “prior studies have demonstrated lower all-cause mortality in individuals who are overweight compared with those with normal body mass index (BMI), but whether this may come at the cost of greater burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is unknown.”

The report concludes: “In this study, obesity was associated with shorter longevity and significantly increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality compared with normal BMI. Despite similar longevity compared with normal BMI, overweight was associated with significantly increased risk of developing CVD at an earlier age, resulting in a greater proportion of life lived with CVD morbidity.” In other words, as MedPage Today reports: “Obesity was tied to a shorter lifespan, and a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality compared with normal BMI.”

Deeper Dive Heightens Engagement Drive

But a deeper dive into the study reveals even more important data — including on costs. These facts and findings can help with engagement or even plan design around a well-run workplace wellness program:

The economic implications of direct and indirect medical costs of the overweight and obesity epidemic are enormous, and total health care costs attributable to overweight and obesity are estimated to exceed $800 billion by 2030 if current trends persist.

These trends are concerning for very likely future increases in the population-level burden of CVD among adults, including a trend for CVD events to occur at younger ages.

Another key conclusion — and a recent by biometric and other screening is often part of a well-run workplace wellness program: Catching the disease early matters.

The authors write: “Taking a life course perspective, we observe that the obesity paradox (ie, greater longevity after diagnosis of CVD for those who are overweight and obese) appears largely to be caused by earlier diagnosis of CVD.”