Employers somewhat responsible for employee health: Survey

60 per cent of workers have three or more unhealthy behaviours
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 01/06/2011

Eight out of 10 Canadians believe common diseases are completely or mostly preventable, yet almost two-thirds (63 per cent) have adopted a pattern of unhealthy behaviours, according to Sun Life’s 2010 Canadian Health Index.

In fact, 60 per cent of Canadian workers have three or more unhealthy behaviours — such as smoking, exercise, diet, sleep, stress and water intake — and lack of exercise, smoking and poor diet are major risk factors for diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, said Sun Life.

Two-thirds (65 per cent) of those with three of more unhealthy behaviours have two or more risk factors while 18 per cent have all three risk factors for disease, found the survey. Of all respondents, 41 per cent have two or more risk factors for disease and 11 per cent have all three risk factors — smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise.

While 73 per cent think their own behaviour is the biggest factor that influences their health, 60 per cent of Canadians also believe their employer has some responsibility when it comes to their health.

"Canadians recognize their role in maintaining their own health, they just need the nudge or incentive that can help them overcome the barriers of willpower, time and money," said Stuart Monteith, senior vice-president of group benefits at Sun Life Financial Canada. "Employee workplace wellness programs are a proven way to lower these barriers and help empower employees to take positive action to improve their health."

Barriers to maintaining a healthy lifestyle included lack of willpower or motivation (61 per cent) followed by lack of time (46 per cent) and money (39 per cent), found the survey of 3,989 people.

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