October 7, 2004
Insurer: Survey on Upstaters' eating, exercise habits may help employers improve workers' health, cut health costs
A new survey of the eating and exercise habits of Upstate New Yorkers illustrates an opportunity and incentive for employers to find ways that help motivate their workers to exercise more and eat smarter, according to the health insurer that conducted the study.
“Every one of us has the personal responsibility of taking care of ourselves with physical activities and eating habits,” said David Klein, chief executive officer for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Employers can benefit through greater productivity and lower health care costs by encouraging their workers to be active.
“The survey shows significant numbers of New Yorkers are nearly ready to commit to improving their health status, so whatever we can do collectively in our communities to help seal the deal would help reduce waistlines and improve bottom lines for everyone.”
The Zogby International survey commissioned by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, which was released Oct. 6, showed that more than half of upstate New Yorkers say they’re physically active, but one out of five reported they had not engaged in any physical activity or exercise outside of work during July.
Zogby interviewed more than 2,000 residents of 39 counties, Excellus said in a release. Questions were drawn from national health surveys, allowing for comparisons to a nationwide initiative to improve the health of Americans, called Healthy People 2010. The survey was conducted from Monday, July 26, to Friday, July 30.
The survey showed that:
- More than 36 percent of upstate New York adults reported
weight and height
measurements that would place them in the “overweight” category, according to national
guidelines. Another 20 percent of upstate adults were classified as “obese.”
- Approximately one in five upstate adults reported they
had not engaged in any physical
activity outside of work during the month of July.
- A majority of upstate adults (56.6 percent) reported being
physically active for more than
- Slightly more than 25 percent of upstate New York adults
expressed their intention to
increase their physical activity participation.
“The fact that 25 percent of upstate New York adults say they’re physically active ‘once in a while, but not regularly,’ or are ‘currently physically active but have only begun doing so within the last six months,’ represents an opportunity to firmly establish healthier behaviors,” said Mary Paris, director of health policy and health services research for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, who conducted the analysis.
- 44.5 percent of upstate New York adults met the Healthy
People 2010 objective for “moderate” exercise,
defined as exercising 30 or more minutes a day at least
five days a week, during which there is a small increase
in breathing or heart rate.
- Approximately 30 percent of upstate New York adults met
the Healthy People 2010 objective for “vigorous”
exercise, defined as exercising at least 20 minutes per
session three days a week, during which there is a large
increase in breathing or heart rate.
- A majority of upstate New York adults (56.2 percent) reported
that they had been eating a healthy diet for more than six
months. A healthy diet was defined as one that contains
whole grains, is low in fat, low to moderate in salt, and
includes five or more servings of fruits and vegetables
- Close to 36 percent of upstate New York adults indicated they were thinking about starting a healthy diet, had begun to eat a healthy diet sometimes but not regularly, or had started to eat a healthy diet regularly, but just within the past six months.
National estimates reveal that more than half of U.S. health care spending is for treatments consumed by 5 percent of the population with high-cost illnesses and injuries, Excellus said in a release. Obesity is a national health concern, as it is considered to be a leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Serious chronic conditions and disabilities—including heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, hypertension, arthritis and other ailments—are strongly associated with obesity. In 2003, medical expenditures attributable to obesity in New York State were estimated to be over $6 billion.
Detailed results by region, gender and age are now posted
for public review at the public policy
section of www.excellusbcbs.com.