Recently an article titled “Employers' Role in Cancer Prevention and Treatment—Developing Success Metrics for Use by the CEO Roundtable on Cancer,” appeared in Population Health Management, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. In this article, the authors discuss how employers can play a significant role in improving efforts to prevent and treat diseases, such as cancer, by introducing and supporting health promotion programs in the workplace.
The authors describe the “5 Pillars” of the CEO Cancer Gold Standard program, the framework Johnson & Johnson created to monitor the use and effectiveness of the cancer prevention and treatment enhancement efforts it introduced, and examples of the data collected by the company.
The article is available free for a limited time on the Population Health Management website.
Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD
VP of Health & Productivity Research
Rachel Mosher Henke, PhD
Director of Research
It’s no secret that obesity has become a significant health risk in the US, especially in the last 25 years. In many states, more than 30% of the population is obese, and the rates are climbing every year. As has been reported, obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, certain cancers and many other chronic diseases that lead to billions of dollars in healthcare costs annually. As a society, we certainly have a financial incentive to reverse our weight gain. Those who would benefit the most are, sadly, too often the people who have no real means of achieving this.
The link between obesity and poverty has been recognized but often under-reported. Many inner cities are effectively “food deserts”, with few if any sellers of high quality food. Fruits and vegetables are often in short supply and may be prohibitively expensive. Gardening is often not an option or an available skill. High calorie foods laden with fat and carbohydrates are much cheaper and more available than high quality foods in inner cities. On top of these challenges in obtaining decent food, even pound-shedding physical activity can be out of reach because safe areas to exercise are often not available.
The US obesity problem is complex—only for some is it a matter of diet; for many people living in poverty, obesity is just one result of a socio-economic dilemma. Public health solutions need to be wide reaching and address more than dietary approaches for this unhealthy part of our population.
Michael L Taylor, MD FACP
Chief Medical Officer
While the early efforts to promote movement while working appear to be imperfect, the pursuit is laudable. Most disturbing is recent evidence that sedentary lifestyles are an independent risk factor, even for people who exercise regularly. Sitting uninterrupted for more than four hours a day is unhealthy. I know that many of my colleagues here at Truven Health are at their desks for four, five, six hours straight, every day, and I’m trying to change that.
At a minimum, regardless of their specific work content, office workers should be encouraged to get out of their seats frequently and walk around for a few minutes. The challenge for companies trying to promote simultaneous exercise and work is our own limitations on multi-tasking. It’s possible that typing and walking in place is simply a too-difficult combination of activities; perhaps the use of treadmills and elliptical trainers should be limited to conference calls. In the end it remains true that a healthy workforce is a competitive advantage and hard working employees who never leave their workstation may not be the best performers over time.
Ray Fabius MD
Chief Medical Officer