Business loss tied to poor employee health, BYU professor's study finds

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 21 2012 11:00 a.m. MDT

Brigham Young University professor Ray Merrill found that productivity in the workplace is higher the more employees exercise.

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Working out and eating healthy foods can boost productivity in the workplace, according to a study led by Ray Merrill, a Brigham Young University professor in the Department of Health Sciences. But unhealthy habits lead to lower productivity.

"Total health-related employee productivity loss accounts for 77 percent of all such loss and costs employers two to three times more than annual health care expenses," Merrill said in the press release.

The research found that employees who only occasionally exercised were 50 percent more likely to say they had low productivity, and those who had poor eating habits were 66 percent more likely to report low productivity levels, according to the article.

"Employees today have obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases more than they have in all of history," said Steve Aldana, co-author and former BYU health professor, in the press release. "In terms of companies, businesses and employers, that trend has a very clear impact on their ability to get things done. Productivity is not what it used to be."

Aldana now runs wellness company WellSteps.

"This research provides guidelines on how employers can modify the work environment to improve productivity," Merrill said in the release. The research was conducted with Health Enhancement Research Organization and the Center for Health Research at Healthways.

Email: ehong@desnews.com

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