Are you fit for work?

It seems that quite apart from the benefits to you personally that healthy living can bring it now seems Britain’s bosses are being urged to take particular interest in the health of their workers.

Britain's Healthiest Company

The move is not a push to reduce accidents in the workplace but stark figures that show that a healthy workforce is a profitable one for their bosses.

Health insurer Vitality Health and consultancy firm Mercer this week launched Britain’s Healthiest Company 2015. The aim is to find and celebrate the country’s most outstanding organisations demonstrating best practice and innovative approaches to looking after the health and wellbeing of their staff.

It is the largest national study in the UK, with the aim of providing employers with insights into the wellbeing of their workers and to celebrate those companies supporting health in the workplace. Companies with at least 50 employees have been invited sign up to participate in the survey which will comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of workplace wellness programmes and the health of the workforce.

The study analyses 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.

Neville Koopowitz, chief executive of VitalityHealth, said: “The pervasive effect our lifestyles have not only on our own health, but that of the economy as well, is startling. When we calculated the Vitality Age of the respondents to the 2014 survey, it was almost four years older than the real age. Our workforce is, in effect, four years older than it should be. This has a dramatic impact on productivity.

“As this is the third time we have conducted the survey the results will be particularly interesting as it will start to show us a direction of travel for employee health.”

Britain’s Healthiest Company 2014 surveyed over 25,000 employees from 82 companies across a diverse range of industries and employer sizes. The research, which was undertaken by the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe, revealed that sick leave and presenteeism (working while unwell) costs companies, on average, 7.7% of their yearly wage bill. This translated into an estimated total cost of lost productivity to the UK economy of over £58 billion per year.

The insurer said the report last year provided a stark warning of a dormant health time bomb, with nearly two thirds (62%) of employees having at least two bad

lifestyle choices that put them at serious risk of future ill health. The findings highlighted the strong link between these lifestyle risk factors, employees’ health and their performance at work, looking at areas such as: absenteeism, productivity, engagement, and presenteeism. It found that employers are typically left to pick up the bill as unhealthy staff take more time off sick and under-perform at work.

The question remains as to what action employers would look to or could take if they found their workforce was below par health wise. It will in the future pay to be healthy and you can expect corporate gym memberships to rise when the results of this year’s research are published.

We continue to lose when it comes to men versus food

As we run up to Christmas comes news from across the Irish Sea which goes to reinforce what I think many of us already know.

This is not a time for stereotypical jokes about the Irish but a very comprehensive and serious report of men’s health from the Irish public health body safefood.
The body undertook research on men’s attitude to food and concluded that, in Ireland at least, that attitude puts us men at a serious disadvantage our female counterparts.

Given Christmas Day it is estimated that the average British adult will put away over 6,000 calories it makes interest reading for all.

The report highlights that men are generally less engaged with food both in terms of food hygiene and healthy eating. It also finds men have less healthy diets, eat more fat and salt, less fruit and vegetables, and tend to see food as fuel.

Men also show greater preference for larger portions of food, are less likely to be aware of healthy eating guidelines and are less likely to regard healthy eating as an important factor influencing their long-term health. And although more men than women are overweight or obese in Ireland, they are less likely to attempt to lose weight or to monitor their diet. At present, 70% of Irish men are overweight or obese, compared with 50% of women.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health and Nutrition, safefood said “Despite increases in life expectancy in both genders over the past number of decades, men are at higher risk from major chronic diseases such as heart disease and many cancers, mainly due to modifiable behavioural factors such as poor diet, high consumption of alcohol and smoking. Our food environment and societal attitudes around masculinity play a role in influencing men’s food behaviour.

When it comes to food skills such as planning, purchasing, shopping, cooking and cleaning, women are more likely to be skilled in this area and still do most of this work. While there is an abundance of data on men and women’s food intake and dietary patterns, few studies have exclusively examined men’s attitudes and behaviours in relation to food and health. This report identifies how men view themselves and their relationship with food and is of importance for men’s health given their levels of overweight and obesity.”

While the report does not look at the issue of exercise, the benefits of any exercise regime are far more apparent if they go hand in hand with a healthy diet.

The report also found that men are far more likely to be the occasional cook leaving it to a special occasion rather than a daily trip to the kitchen to rustle up a meal.

It seems it is all down to the “hunter gatherer” instinct in the male and that deep down we see the cooking of what we gather best left to the female. Obviously with most females tasked with the weekly shopping the hunting and gathering role is also becoming ever more redundant.

In the UK interestingly the most high profile chefs and television cooks remain male and while it may well attract men into a career in food and cookery it does not look likely have them glued to the food and drink channel.

Indeed the most popular food show amongst men in recent years has been “Man v Food” where host Adam Richman travelled across America to sample some iconic regional dishes and in each episode ended by taking on some daunting food challenges, such as attacking a 13-pound pizza in Atlanta, tucking into the Sasquatch Burger in Memphis, and the aptly named Atomic Hot Wings platter in Pittsburgh.

The issue is it seems is that until more men understand that while food is fuel we need to increase the quality not quantity of the fuel we consume then our health will continue to suffer.

Raise money for men’s health charity – banish the grey!

home_logo.gifLondon: Banish grey for a day and raise money for the UK men’s health campaigners, The Prostate Cancer Charity.

The old adage ‘you’re only as old as you feel’ might be a nice thought, but unfortunately our looks often let us down. With life sometimes becoming grey, dull and mundane, an injection of colour is just what’s needed to stop the tedium setting in. Offering just such a solution is Grey-Away Day.
Whereas women are very vocal about ‘refreshing’ their looks, men tend to shy away from physical self-improvement (or at least they are more bashful about it!). But all that is set to change thanks to Grey-Away Day, an initiative just for men, that will encourage men across the country to banish their grey and lead a more colourful life.
The campaign will give men a better reason than ever to colour their hair. In the run up to Grey-Away Day (September 24th) men will be encouraged to seek sponsorship from their friends, family and work colleagues to return their hair to its natural colour, and in the process 20p from all boxes of Just For Men sold during September will be donated to The Prostate Cancer Charity, the UK’s leading charity working with people affected by the disease.
With over 25 million men in the UK and 28% sporting significant grey hair, it is about time men took on the challenge to look as young as they feel. With 2 million boxes of Just For Men hair colourant sold in the UK, there is already a large following, and this campaign hopes to encourage men to reach for the bottle to embrace a fresher look and reveal the person they feel they are.
To find out more about the campaign just for men, or to sponsor a friend or loved one, please visit <a href=””></a> or join us on Twitter <a href=””></a> and Facebook <a href=””></a>
<b>About The Prostate Cancer Charity</b>
The Charity is fighting prostate cancer on every front – through research, support, information and campaigning.

Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK.
36,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and one man dies of prostate cancer every hour in the UK.
The Charity provides the UK’s only nurse led prostate cancer helpline, helping men and their families to access support and information through its confidential helpline, 0800 074 8383.