According to the Centers for Disease Control, chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. and the leading drivers of health care costs. When you look specifically at diabetes costs, cardiovascular disease is the largest contributor to both direct and indirect costs related to the condition.
Employers are feeling the pain. Chronic conditions and unhealthy behaviors including high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity reduce worker productivity and cost US employers more than $34 billion because of missed workdays.
Heart disease and stroke are the most expensive medical conditions for businesses.
Considerations for employers
Employment in the U.S. has moved away from manual labor and is now largely driven by sedentary professional jobs. Various factors, including improvements in technology, mean fewer reasons for employees to get up from their desks throughout the day. This seems to translate to leisure time as well, where more time is spent watching TV, playing video games or sitting in front of the computer than being physically active. It’s no surprise that sedentary behavior has become an important risk factor in the development of many chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Another sobering fact: more than 90% of American adults with diabetes are overweight or obese and most have other symptoms that increase their risk of cardiovascular disease. Most practice adverse health behaviors (no physical activity, poor quality diet, unmanaged stress, sleep issues). Considering that the majority of adults with type 2 diabetes spend their day at the workplace, there is an opportunity to encourage positive health behaviors, including physical activity, during the work day.
The positive news is that when an individual takes care of their diabetes, they often lower the risk of heart problems as well. This often requires aggressive risk factor management.