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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:

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.