A new study has revealed that bad lifestyle choices are costing British employees over four years off their lives, making them unhealthy and old before their time. The first Britain’s Healthiest Company Index*, run by PruHealth, the health insurer and Vitality wellness programme provider and Mercer, the global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments, surveyed almost 10,000 employees and is the biggest study of employee health in the UK.

86% of British workers have a Vitality (health) Age of 4.1 years older than their real age due to unhealthy lifestyles, reducing their life expectancy. PruHealth’s unique Vitality Age calculator gives people an understanding of their true level of health by assessing if a person’s health-risk age matches their actual chronological age.

Vitality Age gives an estimate of years of life lost or gained by taking into consideration the presence or absence of certain risk factors. Nearly a third (31.2%) of employees have three or more risk factors, putting them at serious risk of ill health, and the biggest contributing factors for a higher Vitality Age are lack of physical activity and being overweight.

According to Neville Koopowitz, Chief Executive of PruHealth: “Having a higher Vitality Age is putting Britain’s workers at serious risk of ill health as they get older, which is creating a timebomb for UK Plc. British business will have to pick up the increasing cost of absenteeism and presenteeism from an ageing population that will be retiring much later. Over the last few decades people have been living longer but they are not living longer, healthier lives and are very likely to suffer from chronic disease, dramatically reducing quality of life, with their employers picking up the bill.

“For many decades it has been accepted that children will live longer than their parents but for the first time in generations, there is mounting evidence that this trend of longer life is now reversing, in no small part due to lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking. Our research backs-up this trend showing that today’s workforce are losing over four years off their lives.”

Men aged between 40-49 years old are the riskiest group most likely to have a higher Vitality Age. Those with a higher Vitality age than their real age are 12% more likely to visit the GP and 13% more likely to be hospitalised.

John Anderson, UK Market Business Leader for Health and Benefits at Mercer said: “The working environment plays a crucial role in shaping the health and wellbeing of staff as they spend most of their waking hours at work. Employees who feel their employer cares about their health and wellbeing are more likely to be more engaged and loyal, resulting in higher productivity, higher profitability and higher customer support. These latest findings add to the business case for ensuring a healthy company.”

The PruHealth Vitality Age is an algorithm which assesses if a person’s health-risk age matches their actual age. It reveals if their lifestyle is damaging their health and potentially how many years of their life they may lose because of that unhealthy living or vice versa, giving a true picture of overall health. It takes into account a number of lifestyle categories and risk factors including BMI (body mass index), cholesterol levels and blood pressure, blood glucose levels, smoking, alcohol, nutrition, exercise, stress and wellbeing. The Vitality Age algorithm is derived from a meta-analysis of over 5,000 studies relating to all-cause mortality, and has been developed in conjunction with leading academics.

For further details visit – www.britainshealthiestcompany.co.uk

* Britain’s Healthiest Company is the biggest survey of workplace wellness in the UK, designed to give companies a better understanding of the health and lifestyle of their employees and where to take proactive steps to most effectively support their employees to become healthier.

Blog article written by PruHealthp


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