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Unhealthy UK workers slash 4 years off their life

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Employees in the UK are shortening their life by more than four years because of their unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle choices.

That is according to research by health insurance company PruHealth in association with consultancy firm Mercer.

Entitled Britain’s Healthiest Company Report – the biggest study of employee lifestyle in the UK – it showed that UK workers have a “health age” of 4.1 years more than their actual age as a result of physical inactivity and poor dietary choices.

The study measured the health of workers in shared offices by using the “Vitality Age” index, which estimates the number of years lost or gained by taking into account lifestyle choices and risk factors.

It found that nearly one third of UK employees have three or more risk factors – which puts them in danger of developing serious health problems such as coronary heart disease or obesity.

Indeed, being overweight is cited as one of the biggest problems with today’s staff, as more and more people take up sedentary, office-based jobs. This is further compounded by a lack of physical activity to counteract being seated all day.

And while these issues can affect workers of all ages and sexes, the study found that men aged between 40 and 49 are most at risk.

Neville Koopowitz, chief executive of PruHealth, warned employers that they would be financially burdened if they didn’t make a greater effort to improve the health of their staff members, as they would have to fork out for the rising cost of absenteeism.

John Anderson, UK market business leader for health and benefits at Mercer, added: “The first step on this path is to embrace employee health improvement as a potential route to improving engagement and productivity.”

Once employers have done this, the next step is to understand the size and nature of the issue, so that firms can adopt targeted health and wellbeing initiatives at work to address the topic before it gets out of hand, Mr Anderson advised.