London has the healthiest workers while Wales fares the worst, reveals a new UK health map based on data on a combination of lifestyle choices and clinical outcomes of nearly 10,000 employees across the country.
The map, which has been produced as part of the Britain’s Healthiest Company* report, run by PruHealth with Vitality and Mercer. It shows stark variations in the health and lifestyles of Brits, and exposes the healthiest and unhealthiest regions in the UK, highlighting that where we live and work really does have an impact on our health.
The study analysed lifestyle, behavioural and clinical risk factors including weight, diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol intake, stress, cholesterol and blood glucose levels, blood pressure as well as how often people attend health screenings to monitor and understand their health.
Top healthiest regions in the UK
The health map launches the search for Britain’s Healthiest Company 2014, which aims to discover and celebrate organisations within the UK that demonstrate best practice and innovative approaches to looking after the health and wellbeing of their staff. It is open to organisations with 50+ employees and is free to enter.
By taking part, each company will receive a Corporate Health Report detailing the main health and lifestyle risks facing their organisation, tailor made recommendations on how to improve, and how they are benchmarked against other companies. Participating employees will also receive a Personal Health Report providing a unique insight into their health and recommendations on lifestyle changes they can make.
As part of Britain’s Healthiest Company, research, analysis and production of tailored Health reports for each participant will be undertaken by the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe, which collaborate on health research through the Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research.
According to Dr Katie Tryon, Head of Clinical Vitality at PruHealth: “This map paints a fascinating picture of the health of the corporate nation. It shows how employees’ lifestyles are impacting their overall health and ultimately reducing their life expectancy. There is a clear picture of how each region is performing and where the hotspots are.
“Most of us start the New Year with good intentions. By making lifestyle adjustments now staff can improve their quality of life and not only live longer, but live healthier lives and reduce their chances of developing a chronic disease. Loss of productivity and absenteeism levels are of growing concern to many companies which are starting to see a potential timebomb. The combination of an ageing workforce and increasing sickness levels due to lifestyle-related illnesses, will directly impact the bottom line.”
Overall 86% of British workers have an average Vitality (health) Age** of 4.1 years older than their real age due to unhealthy lifestyles. In comparison, workers in London have a health age of 3.2 years older than their actual age, while those in Wales are 5.5 years older, which is mainly due to their lifestyle choices.
Londoners are the slimmest (65% in the healthy range) and do the most exercise (45%), while the North East came up top eating most healthily (74%), smoking the least (26%) and are most conscious about their health, attending on average 1.44 health screenings every year. At the other end of the scale, nearly three quarters (74%) of workers in Wales are not exercising enough and over half (55%) smoke. The West Midlands also fell short with only 42% in the healthy weight range and just 57% eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Overall Health London Wales
Obesity rates London Wales
Eating habits North East West Midlands
Exercise London Wales
Smoking habits North East Wales
No of risk factors Northern Ireland Wales
No of health screens North East Wales
Commenting on the findings, Chris Bailey, Head of Corporate Consulting for Employee Health and Benefits at Mercer said: “Employers who recognise the regional variance in both the healthcare needs of their workforce and in healthcare provision itself across the UK can greatly increase the return on investment on their healthcare spend. Mercer has negotiated client specific healthcare relationships with local hospitals, clinicians and other facilities to realise genuine savings for local employers.
“Whether you’re a global employer with an office in one location, or a small regional firm with ties to the local community, there are ways to benefit from your local footprint. The agreements we’re negotiating enhance both the softer aspects of health and wellbeing such as improved service levels but also directly cut costs. Employers who target interventions in the areas most needed not only see a short term impact in terms of reduced benefits costs but also deliver longer term risk and cost management as chronic risk factors are minimised or avoided.”
Barriers to health
The study found a direct correlation between income and health with lifestyle risk factors more prevalent among lower income earners. On average nationally, those on the highest salaries have a health age of almost two years younger than those on the lowest.
The closing date for entries for Britain’s Healthiest Company is 30th March 2014 and the results will be announced in June 2014. For further details on how to enter please visit: www.britainshealthiestcompany.co.uk