Chronic disease burden in Britain crippling productivity

One-quarter of population obese, one-third overweight: Survey

Chronic conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and cancer, are costing the economy in the United Kingdom £21.6 billion pounds (C$35 billion) per year in lost productivity, according to a survey released by wellness provider Healthways.

Workers with normal weight and no disease burden report fewer than four unhealthy days and fewer than 1.5 missed days of work per year due to poor health, found the survey of 8,866 residents. On the other hand, obese or overweight workers with a burden of three or more diseases report 60 unhealthy days and more than 18 missed work days per year due to poor health.

"The implication of the chronic disease burden of the U.K.'s workforce is at alarming levels," said Ben Leedle, president and CEO of Healthways. "Employers who recognize the importance of improving well-being at the workplace are most likely to gain a competitive advantage."

One-quarter of the population of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is obese and another 31 per cent is overweight, according to Healthways. Additionally, fewer than one-half of those surveyed exercise regularly.

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