U.S. Workers at Increased Risk for Developing a Chronic Disease

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Marsha Fisher
800.699.8011 x 71428

Raleigh, N.C. (July 29, 2019)

A new poll commissioned by Workplace Options found that a significant number of U.S. workers engage in lifestyle behaviors that put them at an increased risk of developing a non-communicable disease (NCD). Often referred to as “chronic diseases,” NCDs are those diseases that are not transmitted from one person to another.[1] They are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, killing more than three out of every five people.[2]

In the poll, one out of four employees reported they had already been diagnosed with one of the following chronic diseases: cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes or pre-diabetes. Tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol are all known modifiable behaviors that can significantly increase one’s risk of developing a chronic disease.[3] It is estimated that three-quarters of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes cases and 40% of cancer would be prevented if risk factors were eliminated.[4]

“Employers are in a unique position to offer employees the tools and resources they need to live healthier and more productive lives by minimizing their risk factors for these largely preventable diseases,” shares Dean Debnam, Chief Executive Officer at Workplace Options, the world’s largest independent provider of employee wellbeing support solutions. “Tobacco cessation support, weight management resources and employee wellbeing coaching are all effective ways to help employees modify their lifestyles in ways that will benefit their physical health, as well as the health of the organizations where they work.”

Other interesting poll results were as follows:

  • 32% of poll participants reported using some form of tobacco.
  • 60% said that their employer did not provide access to tobacco cessation support.
  • 55% identified themselves as being slightly or very overweight.
  • 59% reported their employer did not offer resources for weight management support.
  • Of those polled whose employers offered weight management resources, 85% said they were very likely or somewhat likely to access support if needed.
  • 23% reported they spend on average between 50% and 75% of their waking hours sitting down

The poll also found that of those already diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes or pre-diabetes, 28% were between the ages of 18 and 29.

“We were surprised to see how many employees, at the beginning of their careers, were already struggling with a chronic disease, shares Debnam. “When you consider the long-term implications in terms of healthcare costs alone, it is extremely concerning.”

The national poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling on June 17-19, 2019, and is based on responses from 544 working Americans. The margin of error is +/- 4.2 percent. Full results are available HERE.

For more information about Workplace Options, visit www.workplaceoptions.com or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.


About Workplace Options

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs.

Drawing from an international network of credentialed providers and professionals, Workplace Options is the world’s largest integrated employee support and work-life services provider. Service centers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Portugal, France, Belgium, UAE, Singapore, Japan, China, India and Indonesia support more than 58 million employees across 90,000 organizations and more than 200 countries and territories. To learn more, visit www.workplaceoptions.com.


[1] World Health Organization (WHO) (June 2018) Noncommunicable Diseases Fact Sheet  https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases

[2] Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (Jan 2019) Fact Sheet: The U.S. Government and Global NonCommunicable Disease Efforts


[3] WHO (June 2018) Noncommunicable Diseases Fact Sheet  https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases

[4] WHO 10 Facts on Noncommunicable Diseases