Poor Diet, Tobacco Use and Lack of Physical Activity Taking Toll on Nation's Health

July 15, 2013
by Dr. Derek Yach & Will Rosenzweig
Huffington Post

While we're living longer, poor diet, tobacco use and inadequate physical activity are negatively impacting our health. These are some of the findings of research released this week by the U.S. Burden of Disease Collaborators, prompting much discussion and debate. To those of us on the front lines of promoting workplace health this comes as no surprise. This study should only add to the sense of urgency that we as a nation must have in solving this crisis.

There is a direct link between the health of the U.S. workforce and the overall wellbeing of the U.S. economy. Currently, greater than 50 percent of Americans live with one or more chronic disease. With this rising burden of chronic disease comes rising costs within the health care system, and increased premiums at a cost to employers. Compounding this, employees with chronic disease take more sick days and are less productive on the job. Workplace health is of significant importance to the economic productivity of the nation and critical to reducing the national debt. The U.S. is slipping behind its major Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Countries (OECD) competitors regarding improvements in population health. Specifically, the U.S. falls in the bottom 20 percent of the 34 OECD countries for the following chronic diseases: ischemic heart diseases (rank: 27), lung cancer (28), COPD (32), diabetes (31), cardiomyopathy (31), chronic kidney disease (31), and hypertensive heart disease (27). Poorer health today could translate into lower productivity tomorrow.

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