The Argument for Weight Loss Workplace Support to Combat Cardiovascular Disease in Employees

Did you know that 7.6 million people in the UK are living with heart diseases? According to the British Heart Foundation, it is estimated that more than half of the country will get a heart and circulatory disease in our lifetimes.

In some cases, cardiovascular disease (CVD) leads to fatal heart attacks and strokes. CVD is already the leading cause of death in the UK, accounting for a quarter of all fatalities each year. These statistics are shocking, but for employers it is vital they are considered, since they impact adults of working age. CVD accounts for 36% of premature deaths in men and 27% of premature deaths in women.

Heart disease has indirect costs of around £7billion on the UK’s economy every single year due to loss of productivity and healthcare burden, due to mortality and morbidity (suffering with the disease). And yet most CVD cases were preventable.

The British Heart Foundation say that leading causes of CVD come from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and inactivity. High cholesterol accounts for 1 in 4 coronary deaths, while obesity accounts for 1 in 6.

It is estimated that almost half of all UK adults have cholesterol levels above the healthy levels. Additionally, research by Imperial College, London predicts that a fifth of the world’s population will be obese by 2025, with the UK ranking at the top of Europe’s obesity league. Sedentary jobs, poor diet, and unhealthy lifestyle choices have been largely contributing to weight gain in recent years and increasing the risk of heart disease.

This rise in obesity rates has significant implications for the economy, workplaces, and the overall well-being of individuals. That’s why we believe it is crucial for employers to recognize the impact of obesity and related cardiovascular disease on their workforce and take proactive measures to address this issue. With obesity rates rising, as does the risk of deaths due to cardiovascular disease. As such, the negative impact of obesity on health cannot be ignored, making it imperative for workplaces to prioritize the health and well-being of their employees.

Beyond the burden on the healthcare system, heart disease results in increased absenteeism, disability pension claims, and overall work impairment. The annual cost to businesses attributable to obesity and heart disease is substantial, highlighting the need for workplace interventions to mitigate these economic costs and support employees in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The UK government has long recognized the critical role that workplaces play in addressing the issue of obesity and its dangers to heart health. Initiatives such as the Public Health Responsibility Deal emphasize the importance of employers taking responsibility for their employees’ well-being.

Some workplaces have attempted to create an environment that supports employees in making positive lifestyle choices by implementing measures that promote physical activity and healthy living, such as cycle-to-work schemes and standing desks. However, these schemes only go so far.

Luckily, thanks to brand new game-changing medication, studies are showing that GLP-1 agonists like WeGovy and Ozempic are not just leading to weight loss, but also significantly decreasing risk of heart disease and strokes. In fact, risk of major cardiovascular events in users of the popular medication is down by 20%.

GLP-1 agonists are medications that mimic the hormone GLP-1, which is usually created in the intestines after eating a meal. They were created by pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to aid those with type 2 diabetes as it regulated glycaemic control. However, in clinical trials they found that through its mechanism of action, a GLP-1 agonist can help increase feelings of fullness, leading to lower calorie intake and weight loss.

The medication has been incredibly successful in leading to significant weight loss, with users seeing a 15% loss of body weight on average. They also lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, and decrease blood pressure, all of which impact cardiovascular health.

Types of GLP-1 agonists include semaglutide seen used in WeGovy, dulaglutide which is branded as Saxenda, and dulaglutide which is also known as Trulicity. The use of GLP-1 agonist weight loss medications is already making huge strides in combatting obesity and therefore reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is especially the case since the main indicators of CVD risk are body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference – both reducing when individuals use GLP-1 agonists as part of their weight loss programme.

Employers should see these medications, as part of a supported weight loss programme, as an employee benefit option.  There are incredible opportunities to not only improve the health of their workforce, but also reduce the ample indirect costs of CVD and obesity on their productivity and the economy as a whole.

While the NHS provides some support, long wait lists and limited supply can impact their ability to prescribe WeGovy to all who would benefit from it. It’s also worth noting that this would be at the cost of taxpayers. By partnering with organisations like Bodyline, workplaces can provide comprehensive support to employees who want to make use of these programmes, ultimately reducing their cardiovascular risk.

The British Safety Council advises employers that weight management programmes should be offered to employees, but that they ought to review their workplace health and well-being practices, ensuring they do not stigmatise individuals living with obesity. Co-production and language framing should be considered to eliminate weight-based stigma and emphasize the contribution that all employees can make.

Being obese or overweight often comes with body image and confidence issues, which contribute to stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits, potentially worsening the problem. In fact, Rightsteps, a mental health provider for corporate and public sectors, have reported a steady uptick in the number of employees being referred to them with reference to self-esteem and body image. Weight-management programmes in work that are non-stigmatising and voluntary can provide the final push for successful weight loss.

Contact Bodyline today to find out more about our safe and effective weight loss programmes and range of treatment options.

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At Bodyline we have 17 years of experience under our belts with weight and health management. That’s why we offer corporate solutions to support the health and well-being of employees and work with key occupational health and employee benefits to offer Bodyline services in the workplc. Our expertise in providing personalised wellness programs, including weight management and hormonal replacement therapy, has positively impacted the lives of over 100,000 individuals. By investing in the health of their workforce, companies can create a supportive environment that values the talent and experience of all their employees, no matter their gender, age, or weight.

Workplace support is crucial in combatting cardiovascular disease and addressing the challenges posed by rising obesity. By prioritising the health and well-being of employees, businesses can create a fair and caring work environment that benefits both individuals and the organisation as a whole. With the right support and interventions, we can empower employees to make positive lifestyle changes and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you are interested in learning more about corporate solutions for combating cardiovascular disease in employees, including our comprehensive weight loss and weight management programs and expert support, contact Bodyline today at 0800 995 6036 or visit our website.

Remember, healthier employees mean happier employees, leading to reduced absenteeism, improved productivity, and lower health costs.

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