Study: Arizonans’ health in decline - East Valley Tribune: News

Study: Arizonans’ health in decline

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Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 11:32 pm | Updated: 9:29 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

An alarming number of Arizonans eat badly, never exercise and stress constantly, and, as a result, consider themselves in declining health.

And employers pay for this through greater absenteeism and lower productivity.

That’s according to Arizona HealthPulse, a new report released by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. More than 3,000 Arizonans across all 15 counties completed a health risk assessment last summer for the study.

“This research sends a message about opportunities for individuals and employers to benefit from managing preventable health issues,” said Richard Boals, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported their health could be improved. That’s an 8 percent rise from the previous report in 2006. Only 13 percent who completed the assessment said they are in “excellent” health.

Twenty-two percent of employed respondents said poor health caused them to miss at least one day of work during the past three months, and 13 percent missed more than two days. Fifty-three percent reported that their health impaired their work performance at times.

“The general health of an adult is linked directly to productivity on the job,” said Dr. Gary Drue Smethers, chief medical officer and senior vice president for health services for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “What this underscores is if we recognize that employee productivity is linked to health ... we must do something to improve adult health.”

More than half of respondents indicated they choose high-fat foods at least as often as low-fat foods, and 69 percent reported they do not exercise on a regular basis.

Arizona is in serious need of cultural change to become a healthier populace, and much of that change can be initiated in the work place, Smethers said.

“I know folks pay attention to the well-being of their automobile more than they do themselves,” Smethers said. “We’ve got to change that.”

Key HealthPulse findings

• Two in three Arizonans are either overweight or obese.

• Arizonans reported a high level of stress.

• Poor nutrition and lack of exercise are major factors contributing to the overall poor state of health of Arizonans.

• A large percentage of Arizonans are forgoing important preventive care.

• Knowledge among Arizonans of key health indicators — such as cholesterol and blood sugar — is low.

• Arizonans do not get enough sleep and are not taking advantage of vacation benefits to de-stress, relax and recharge.

• Employee absenteeism and workplace productivity are impacted by Arizonans’ health problems.

SOURCE: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

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