Stressed Out

STRESSED “OUT?”  Stress is, for the first
time, the most common cause of long-term sickness absence for both manual and
non-manual employees, according to this year’s Chartered Institute of Personnel
and Development (CIPD)/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey.  Employers
planning to make redundancies in the next six months are significantly more
likely to report an increase in mental health problems among their staff (51%
compared with 32% who are not planning redundancies).


Chronic Conditions in the Work Force

“CHRONIC” CONDITIONS: Full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions miss an estimated 450 million additional days of work each year compared with healthy workers, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. According to a press release, full-time workers who are of normal weight and do not suffer from chronic health conditions make up 13.9% of the U.S. workforce and average .34 unhealthy days each month – or about four days per year. The average number of unhealthy days per month is slightly higher at .36 among those who are overweight or obese and do not have additional chronic health conditions.


Nutritional Awareness Does Not Equal Change

In a recent Harris poll approximately three-quarter of U.S.
adults are aware of nutritional facts and how to manage a diet. Alternatively,
nutritional awareness is not translating into dietary change for most

o    Awareness of key nutritional facts is high. At least three-quarters of all U.S. adults
place importance on fresh (89%), fiber (81%), whole grains (81%), fat content
(80%), portion size (79%), calories (77%) and saturated fat (76%) when making
food and beverage purchases. However, more specialized nutritional items are
rated much lower with 33% and 20% rating gluten and vegan as important,

o    Awareness of how to manage a diet is also high. At least seven out of 10 of all
U.S. adults place importance on consumption of protein (83%), fat (81%), whole
grains (81%), calories (80%), saturated fat (79%), sugar (76%), cholesterol
(75%), carbohydrates (74%), and sodium (73%) when thinking of how they manage
their diet and/or weight. Hydrogenated oils were rated the lowest in importance
at 67%;

o    Sugar and salt drive dietary behavioral change. Over half of U.S. adults (57%)
place some type of monitor or restriction on their diet. Sugar and salt are the
top two restricted items, with 34% and 32% restricting salt and sugar,

o    Local is in, but organic lags behind. When asked about broader food-related
issues, 71% of U.S. adults rate locally-sourced produce as important when
thinking about where their food comes from. Comparatively, only 42% rate
organic as important;

o    Matures lead all age groups in diet changes. Three quarters (76%) of Matures
have a diet restriction, as compared to 58% of Baby Boomers (aged 47-65), 50%
of Generation X (aged 35-46), and 51% of Echo Boomers (aged 18-34). Matures are
also more likely to curb their salt or sugar intake than any other generational
group; and,

o    Nutrition Awareness is not translating into dietary change for most generations. Among those who rate sugar or salt as important when managing their diet/weight, less than half of these U.S. adults actually restrict their sugar (42%) or salt
(47%) intake. The action/awareness gap is even more pronounced when comparing
the youngest and oldest generations, where 32% and 31% of Echo Boomers restrict
their sugar or salt intake respectively, compared to 67% and 61% of Matures who

So What?

The high levels of awareness indicate that the nutritional
initiatives in recent years, such as revisions to food labels and increased
interest in obesity programs, seem to be effective in creating a health-conscious
public; however, transforming awareness into healthy habits is the next step.
As noted in a previous Harris Poll
“knowledge alone, while important, is not enough to change behavior,”
and the current data reinforces this issue.

The challenge is how to begin this change while respecting your
organizational culture and working within you budgetary constraints. WE CAN

Visionary Health provides strategic consulting for the design,
implementation and refinement of health benefit and wellness initiatives.
Beginning with an assessment an findings from you existing infrastructure,
Visionary Health helps create a comprehensive system to support and manage
employee’s health at all levels.

See the full poll results at