12 March 2015

Giving a health MOT to everyone at work

Out of 50,000 health MOTs completed in the workplace 17% of men and women registered a BMI > 30

The Health Insurance Group, one of the largest healthcare specialist intermediaries in the UK and the Wellbeing People, makers of the interactive health kiosk, have unveiled that out of 50,000 health MOTs completed in the workplace last year 17% of the UK workforce had a BMI greater than 30, a measure defined as ‘clinically obese’ according to the World Health Organisation. 68% of men had a high or very high body fat content and 54% of women were also high or very high.

The study also showed that 33% men had high blood pressure (hypertension i.e. above 140/90) while 19% women recorded higher than normal levels. If left untreated, high blood pressure increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke and is often referred to as a "silent killer".

The results were part of a study based on delivery of interactive health kiosks to as many UK businesses as possible and to get us to thinking more about health and wellbeing.

With many of us struggling to find the time to go see a GP, the kiosks offer an alternative health-check which can be carried out at work; giving employees an early opportunity to find out more about their health. Anyone who uses the kiosks has their vital signs measured to get a snapshot of their current health status.

“The results aren’t that surprising since the NHS has shifted its focus from sickness and cure to wellness and prevention, to better manage long term medical conditions and other issues relating to old age,” said Brett Hill, Commercial Director of The Health Insurance Group. “The kiosks provided some intriguing data about workplace health and have shown they are the perfect tool for building awareness around the importance of health issues and engaging people in a way that’s convenient and non-invasive; fitting in around their working day.”

The kiosks are medically-calibrated and check a person’s weight, height, body mass index, body fat percentage, blood pressure and heart rate. Interactive applications test wellbeing through a mind/mood app that examines how someone is feeling and provides advice on improving mood, and Boomerang, a life/balance programme that queries personal lifestyle habits i.e. smoking, diet, exercise and sleep. At the end of testing, a score card rates a person’s health, referencing further help and assistance.

Continued Ben McGannan, Managing Director of Wellbeing People and makers of the health kiosk, “There is always a good level of interest and an element of curiosity whenever one of these units is placed in the workplace; the kiosks encourage people to come over, have a chat then step on to the machine. For many it’s a first step towards taking an interest in their health when they wouldn’t necessarily be thinking about it.”

The kiosks normally remain in a business for a period of time to allow staff to check their health status, make a change in their lifestyles and continually monitor progress. The benefits of applying health checks and health improvement programmes in the workplace will help reduce staff turnover and lower sickness absence rates.

FAST FACTS:

  • From 16,808 results from ‘Boomerang lifestyle survey’ taken at the same time, 18% of men and 15% of women continue to smoke in the workplace. Stress and pressures of balancing work/life also show that 72% of men and 65% of women do not get 8 hours sleep a night.
    Businesses that have used the kiosks include companies from: manufacturing, construction, finance, education and public sector. As an example, a call centre for a mobile phone provider uses the kiosks to provide staff with a health check while balancing this with a need to minimise disruption on the phones.
    ‘Sickness absence related costs to employers and taxpayers have been estimated at £22 billion a year. Yet there is emerging evidence that well targeted health support can help keep people in work thus improving their wellbeing and preserving their livelihoods.’ [taken from ‘NHS 5 year forward view’, October 2014]