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Corporate health and wellness – The bottom line

Overweight – 32%
Physically unfit – 48%
Stress – 50%
Smoking – 24%
The implication of the above observations are that the major proportion of the corporate workforce in India (and I would go out on a limb and suggest this is becoming a global trend) are overweight, borderline diabetic, stressed and smokers; all factors which carry a very high risk of adverse cardiac events. It’s logical to argue that because of these health risks and problems, such individuals would contribute less than optimally to their organizations and thereby negatively impacting their companies productivity and hence the bottom line.

My wake up call to India Inc. is that our loss of potentially productive years due to the deaths, which occur from cardiovascular diseases in people aged between 35-64 years, is one of the highest anywhere in the world. By 2030, this loss is expected to rise to 17.9 million years, which is 940% more than the loss estimated in the USA. A growth number that we simply should not aim to win!

Similarly, India is taking the lead on multiple fronts in the races for dubious honors, such as “diabetic capital” of the world, number one in deaths due to heart disease etc. Once again platitudes, which we could do without.

However all is not lost, there is hope yet. I call upon our business leaders to assess the health risks of your employees. These baseline metrics can be used to measure progress in the long run. You can also lead by example by setting an organizational culture of wellness and excellence within your company. As leaders, our employees look up to us and if we are able to mentor and encourage them in their professional lives, then surely it is our responsibility to do the same for their personal lives too.

Business leaders should make health and wellness program accessible to their employees with the appropriate incentive structures in place to inspire action. Yes, there are costs associated with it, but several studies from around the world have shown that the return on that investment can be as high as four times as much in some cases.

It’s amazing how little things can make a huge difference when it comes to health and wellness. For example, it’s been shown that when salt-sensitive individuals lower salt consumption, the blood pressure drops to lower levels reducing their risk of cardiac events. Lactose intolerant individuals benefit from lowering milk consumption and have fewer days off work due to ill health. There are many such examples of such simple, specific and highly effective nutritional and lifestyle interventions, which could generate fantastic returns for both individuals and institutions.

A good wellness program incorporates many tools such as biometric, psychometric, anthropometric, family history, stress, lifestyle, sleep, dietary behavior and preferences, genetic makeup and various other parameters in developing a holistic solution that is engaging, rewarding and effective to the individuals and improves the productivity and bottom line of the corporate.

India Inc., I have laid down the challenge. Who will be first to accept? I guarantee you; ultimately we will all be the winners!

In my previous post “Your health is in Your hands“, I outlined the impact of lifestyle conditions on our nation’s health. Notably we looked at, how contrary to the popularly held belief that chronic conditions usually impact individuals over 50, in India it is, in fact, the younger population that is most at risk due to a host of lifestyle choices which we have made through our diet and day-to-day routines.

According to one study conducted by Apollo Hospitals, the following data is the report card for Corporate India, and the unfortunate news is that there are many such studies that paint a similar and rather a gloomy picture.

The key indicators reported as a percentage of the study group were:

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James Watson
Xcode is a pioneer in personal genomics, focussed on enabling personalized preventive healthcare. We are dedicated to empowering physicians, wellness professionals and customers with the most validated, accurate and actionable genomic information to positively impact and improve their client's health and quality of life.