March 15, 2009
By W. Michael Thomas CFP, CLU, CH.F.C, R.F.P.

Statistics reveal that the contributing factors to chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes, are on the rise. These contributing factors include stress, obesity, depression, smoking and Type 2 Diabetes.

A major concern for many employers is the drug costs and disability claims associated with the increase of chronic diseases. According to the Conference Board of Canada, the consensus is that “Canada like other countries is facing an epidemic of chronic disease, and if we do not learn to both prevent and manage these diseases more effectively, the healthcare system will break under the strain.”

Although the issues surrounding chronic disease are complex, the contributing factors include a lifestyle component. Obviously some risk factors associated with chronic disease cannot be controlled, such as age, ethnicity, family history and gender. However, the good news is that the three main risk factors for chronic disease, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use, can be eliminated just by changing behaviour.  

Encouraging employees to develop positive lifestyle habits that include healthy eating and increased physical activity, while decreasing unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive alcohol and other substance use, goes a long way to decreasing the contributing factors towards developing a chronic disease. Those employers that have implemented Employee Wellness Programs are already seeing the rewards of motivating employees to eat well, butt out and get active with an increase in overall productivity and a reduction in claims.  

More focus on the controllable factors and lifestyle issues will help keep chronic disease and the doctor away and eventually lower claims’ costs.

If you have any questions, please contact Michael Thomas at the address below.  W. Michael Thomas is a partner with The Investment Guild – endorsed provider of the HortProtect Group Insurance Program and is a director of ‘Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation.

The Investment Guild
HortProtect Insurance
11 Allstate Parkway, Suite 100
Markham, ON  L3R 9T8