National Public Health Week was April 3-9, 2017, and there were a number of special events around the US that raised awareness of the need for an all-encompassing public health policy and goal. Generation Public Health, a project of the American Public Health Association (APHA), aims to create the healthiest nation in just one generation.
While the United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the health status of the average American typically lags behind citizens of other developed countries. For example, the US has some of the highest rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes in the world, and our average life expectancy is also lower than that found in many other high-income countries. Clearly, there is much work to be done to improve the health of Americans.
Because the average employee spends the majority of his or her day at work, it’s important for employers to focus on promoting healthy habits and behaviors in the workplace. In fact, many of the health risks that are most prominent in today’s office environments are at least partially preventable, so organizations can have a major impact on health of their employees by establishing effective workplace wellness programs.
Obesity is one of the most prominent health concerns affecting American workers, with more than two-thirds of adults in the US considered either overweight or obese. A sedentary lifestyle (such as sitting at a desk for the majority of the day) and poor dietary choices are major contributors to this condition, so employers may want to consider promoting physical activity and good nutrition in the workplace. Consider stocking vending machines with healthy foods, adding an onsite fitness center, or creating a wellness challenge that encourages employees to get moving.
Many Americans also suffer from chronic health conditions, with 86% of all healthcare spending in 2010 related to a chronic disease. Onsite clinics are a great way to reduce the impact of these conditions. Biometric screenings and preventive care can help to identify diseases early on, and organizations with a large number of employees who suffer from chronic conditions may choose to offer disease management or wellness coaching services.
Stress is another major health concern in the US, with high stress levels contributing to a variety of physical and mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, headaches, and heart disease. Because stress can be difficult to avoid, particularly in today’s fast-paced workplace environments, many companies have begun offering onsite stress management classes and mental health counseling services to their employees.
Creating the healthiest nation in just one generation is a lofty goal, but one that can certainly be accomplished if we all do our part. Employers in particular have an important role to play in promoting good health for Americans. With National Public Health Week behind us, now is an ideal time for organizations to begin considering the health of their employees, and to take action by establishing workplace wellness programs that encourage healthy choices. At Healthstat, we inspire healthy change with onsite health clinics and wellness solutions. Contact us today.