Which Workers Are More Likely to Develop Chronic Diseases?

Is your job killing you? Or is it your lifestyle?

A new poll finds that a significant number of U.S. workers engage in lifestyle behaviors that put them at an increased risk of developing a non-communicable disease, which are often referred to as “chronic diseases.

NCDs are diseases that are not transmitted between people, but they are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, killing more than three out of every five people.

The national poll was conducted by Workplace Options and Public Policy Polling and is based on responses from 544 working Americans.

In the poll, one out of four employees reported they had already been diagnosed with one of the following chronic diseases: cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes or pre-diabetes.

“Employers are in a unique position to offer employees the tools and resources they need to live healthier and more productive lives by minimizing their risk factors for these largely preventable diseases,” says Dean Debnam, chief executive officer at Workplace Options. “Tobacco-cessation support, weight-management resources and employee wellbeing coaching are all effective ways to help employees modify their lifestyles in ways that will benefit their physical health, as well as the health of the organizations where they work.”

Other interesting poll results were as follows:

  • 59% reported their employer did not offer resources for weight-management support;
  • Of those polled whose employers offered weight management resources, 85% said they were very likely or somewhat likely to access support if needed; and
  • 23% reported they spend on average between 50% and 75% of their waking hours sitting down.

The poll also found that of those already diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes or pre-diabetes, 28% were between the ages of 18 and 29.

“We were surprised to see how many employees, at the beginning of their careers, were already struggling with a chronic disease, says Debnam. “When you consider the long-term implications in terms of healthcare costs alone, it is extremely concerning.”

Michael J. O'Brienhttp://
Michael J. O’Brien is former web editor with Human Resource Executive®.