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North East home to Britains least healthy employees

 

The research covering nearly 25,000 employees across 82 companies in the UK analysed lifestyle, behavioural and clinical risk factors to assess employee health and understand what companies should focus on to improve workforce wellbeing. The factors analysed include weight, diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol intake, mental health, cholesterol, blood glucose levels and blood pressure, as well as how often people attend health screenings.

The findings show that the North East has the highest proportion of employees (31%) at risk of developing health problems across a number of categories. Within this region, 28% of employees have an unhealthy body composition (BMI), 45% are not doing enough physical activity, 6% show symptoms of depression, 26% consume too much alcohol, and 29% have elevated blood pressure. The North East also has the highest proportion of employees with four or more risk factors that may affect their health (22%). 

Conversely, London is home to the healthiest employees with 24% the capital’s workers at risk of a health issue. London employees top the tables in terms of nutrition (48% at risk compared to Northern Ireland at 60%), physical activity (28% compared to 45% in the North East) and BMI (12% compared to 28% in the North East).

Overall, 87% of British workers have a Vitality (health) Age that is older than their chronological age, with an average difference of three years and 10 months older than their real age due to unhealthy lifestyles.  In comparison, workers in London have a Vitality Age of three years older than their actual age, while those in the North East are five years and one month older. These figures are mainly attributable to lifestyle choices. 

Table 1. The UK’s least healthy employees by region

Rank

Region

% at risk of health issue

1

North East

30.5%

2

Wales

29.2%

3

East Midlands

28.1%

4

Yorkshire and the Humber

27.7%

5

West Midlands

27.6%

6

North West

27.2%

7

Northern Ireland

26.9%

8

South West

26.4%

9

South East

26.3%

10

Scotland

26.2%

11

East of England

25.8%

12

London

24.2%

Source: Britain’s Healthiest Company 2014

Greg Levine, director of corporate healthcare at VitalityHealth, said, “Health and wellbeing is playing an increasingly important role in how businesses maximise the productivity and happiness of their workforces. Clearly there are some areas across the UK where companies need to do more but if businesses are able to develop a culture in which wellness programmes are integrated into day-to-day life, the benefits for both employees and the company itself will be quickly realised as productivity is improved and the cost of absenteeism is reduced.”

Welsh employees are the most likely in the UK to be current or past smokers (45% of employees) and are also the least likely to have had a health screen in the last twelve months (88% admit to not having a screen over the last year). Northern Ireland has the largest proportion of employees at risk of health problems due to poor nutrition (60%).

Table 2. Regional comparisons by risk factor

Best

% at risk

Worst

% at risk

Overall Health

London

24%

North East

31%

Obesity rates (BMI)

London

12%

North East

28%

Nutrition

London

48%

Northern Ireland

60%

Physical activity

London

28%

North East

45%

Current smokers

Scotland/South East

10%

Wales

14%

Mental health

Scotland

3%

North East

6%

Alcohol consumption

East of England

15%

North East

26%

Blood pressure

Northern Ireland

17%

North East

29%

Four or more risk factors

London

9%

North East

22%

No of health screens

North West

75%

Wales

88%

Source: Britain’s Healthiest Company 2014

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