Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 11:00 a.m.
Contact: Tom Langford
Copies of the report, along with images and graphics, are available by email request.
New York – The United States could save $217 to $303 billion in annual health care costs if businesses and governments adopt existing evidence-based health promotion and chronic disease prevention methods, according to a landmark report released June 18 by the Vitality Institute. The report, developed by the Vitality Institute Commission on Health Promotion and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases in Working-Age Americans, is the result of more than a year of research and debate among some of the country’s top public health experts. It specifically notes that improving health promotion and chronic disease prevention efforts among working-age individuals is essential to strengthening America’s economic competitiveness.
“The economic vitality of the United States is directly linked to the health of its workforce,” said William Rosenzweig, chair of the Vitality Institute Commission. “Preventable chronic diseases such as lung cancer, diabetes and heart disease are forcing large numbers of people to exit the workforce prematurely due to their own poor health or to care for sick relatives. Yet private employers spend less than two percent of their total health budgets on prevention. This trend will stifle America’s economic growth for decades to come unless health is embraced as a core value in society.”
The Commission conducted a first-of-its kind comprehensive review of existing chronic disease prevention research and programs, commissioned 11 original research papers, and debated the findings in private meetings and public forums. The result is a series of recommendations for creating a culture of health that incentivizes and encourages working-age Americans to make healthy choices. Highlights of the recommendations include:
- Require corporations to integrate health metrics into their annual reporting by 2025
- Secure commitments from more than 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies to include workforce health as part of their organizational strategy by 2020
- Increase federal government funding for prevention science research by at least 10 percent by 2017 and create a federal agency to fund efforts that support health and prevention
Additionally, to guide business leaders and policy makers, the report contains nearly 50 examples of chronic disease prevention programs that have been adopted by corporations, local governments and even the US military and are successfully increasing the availability of nutritious food, leading to the development of healthy products and promoting exercise.
“As a nation, we need to address the unsustainable economic and societal burden of chronic diseases, and the Commission’s report details exactly how to achieve that goal,” said Derek Yach, MBChB, MPH, the executive director of the Vitality Institute. “We urge policy makers and business leaders to adopt these recommendations and enact these initiatives in order to better care for our country’s most important resource – a healthy workforce.”
The report and recommendations were unveiled at an event in New York City, during which business leaders and public health experts signed a series of pledges and agreed to join working groups to implement the recommendations. The pledges include:
Humana, Discovery and Qualcomm agreed to be the first corporations to join a working group that will identify the best way to integrate health metrics into annual corporate reporting
IBM, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Vitality Institute are working together to develop a Corporate Health Leaders Program – evidence-based workplace health promotion training courses for small, medium and large employers
The Commission’s work is funded by the Vitality Institute. A portion of the work undertaken by the New York Academy of Sciences was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
About the Vitality Institute
The Vitality Institute is an action-oriented global think tank working to strengthen the evidence base around what works and what doesn’t work in health promotion and chronic disease prevention. Its mission is to advance knowledge about the evolving science and art of prevention and health promotion in order to build healthier societies and reduce incidence of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, mental illness and cancer. The Vitality Institute is an initiative of Discovery, a global financial services provider, and is part of Discovery’s commitment to health promotion and well-being programs. More information is available at www.thevitalityinstitute.org.