World Heart Day is celebrated every year on last Sunday of September month. The theme for this year was `Working towards Wellness'.
The World Heart Federation has teamed up with the WHO and the World Economic Forum to call on governments, employers and workers around the world to make workplaces healthier. The World Economic Forum has identified chronic diseases as a major global threat for human lives and for economic growth and development in the next ten years.
Almost half of those who die from chronic diseases are in their productive years (25-40 years). The economic consequences - driven by productivity reduction and increase in costs caused by these diseases among workforces - are dramatic. The WHO estimates that between 2005-2015 income loss (in international dollars) could rise to as much as $558 billion in China, $237 billion in India, $303 billion in Russia and $33 billion in the UK. That's alarming!
Workplace wellness programmes to promote healthy diets, physical activity and restrictions on tobacco use can prove very cost-effective for the employers. This can increase productivity, lower medical costs and lower absenteeism. This will also improve the corporate image.
To support this initiative many study programmes were carried out all over the world. These programmes included distribution of educational material on healthy lifestyles, changing menus in canteens, providing counselling sessions on health. The results obtained by the initiative were positive and included favourable changes in bodyweight, waist circumference, blood pressure and glucose and cholesterol levels. The percentage of people using tobacco products and also of people adding salt to their meals fell and the level of physical activity nearly doubled.
One may just shrug the idea of 'workplace wellness' as only meant for corporates but it requires awareness at all levels right from maidservants in our homes to the watchmen in our buildings. This can be done by avoiding passing on the leftover food to them, encouraging them to stop use of tobacco and also making them aware of the importance of attending medical camps where they can get their free checkup done.
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