What would happen to your business if you or a key employee faced a serious or life-threatening illness? Even if you have a contingency plan, it’s obviously better to avoid the problem altogether. Many business owners are so busy running their businesses they forget to focus on their health and the importance of a healthy workforce. Personal health is a big issue for Volusia County: it ranks only 45th out of 67 Florida counties in overall health. Further, more than one in fi ve Volusia County residents self-report that they consider themselves in poor or only fair health.1
These staggering statistics can have a significant economic impact. Quality of life is an important economic driver contributing to Volusia County’s attractiveness to new businesses and new residents. A poor or unhealthy lifestyle rank drags down the county’s reputation and generates negative social stereotypes. Businesses directly experience loss of productivity and revenue when owners or employees miss work or do not perform well for health reasons. The loss of an owner or key employee costs the business not only strategically, but also financially in costs to replace or retrain employees, or the cost of having to give up the business entirely. None of these outcomes is good for business.
Obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are three prevalent health issues here in Volusia County. Obesity plays a huge role in general health decline. More than one out of every four adults in Volusia County is classified as obese, with a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.2 Adult obesity has implications beyond the individual. Beverly Johnson, Executive Vice President of the Volusia Flagler Family YMCA, says, “Unfortunately, adults who are obese tend to pass those behaviors onto their children and, therefore, perpetuate a vicious cycle. Furthermore, children living with excessive weight tend to become obese adults.” Obesity now affects 17.9% of all children and adolescents in the United States — triple the rate from just one generation ago.3 In short, obesity is an epidemic.
Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and pre-diabetes are also critical health issues for Volusia County. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.4 Diabetes is an irreversible condition that aff ects almost 10 percent of all Americans.5 It is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. Pre-diabetes is also a serious—but potentially reversible—issue aff ecting more than one in every three American adults. The most troubling fact is that 90% of pre-diabetics don’t even know they have the condition, and so they are not taking steps to improve their chances of avoiding diabetes!6 People with diabetes and pre-diabetes have signifi cant long-term health risks of heart attack, stroke, blindness or amputation, among other health problems.
It is important for people living with hypertension, pre-diabetes, or diabetes to understand and monitor their condition. For all three health issues, even moderate increases in physical activity and weight loss go a long way to improving personal health and reducing long-term health risks.
What Your Business Can Do
Support for a healthier lifestyle begins at home and in the workplace. It is always a good idea to have employees check with their doctor prior to changing their health habits. Businesses can help in the fi ght for better health by promoting awareness and supporting healthier choices for their workers. Here are a few simple ideas to get started:
Implementing simple ideas and programs like these can benefi t businesses through higher productivity and lower business and healthcare costs. A community with healthier citizens thrives in all aspects, including economic development. It makes Volusia County more attractive to new residents and businesses alike. Let’s all work together to solve this crisis!
1,2 County Health Rankings: Volusia County. (2015). The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute: http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/florida/2015/rankings/volusia/county/outcomes/overall/snapshot
3 Murphy, K. (2014, October). Overweight and Obesity in Volusia County: Report Card Summary. Healthy Volusia Report, 1(3), pp. 1-12: http://volusia.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/community-health-planning-and-statistics/informatics/_documents/2014-phdb-obesity.pdf
4 Center for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
5 American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetesbasics/statistics/?loc=superfooter
6 American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/2016/first-of-its-kind-psa-campaign-targets-86-million-american-adults-with-prediabets.html?loc=news_ad-council-english_jan2016