Seventy-five percent of America’s health care costs come from diseases that are preventable according to a report by the Public Health Institute. That means we don’t have to have these diseases and poor health.
Poor health is bad for business and our communities. Sixty-seven percent of the workforce is overweight or obese. 1 in 4 has heart disease. One in 3 has high blood pressure. Fifty percent of company profits go towards health care costs. Obesity among fulltime employees costs $73 billion. A total of $153 billion dollars is lost to employers every year due to absenteeism among workers who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions.
Small investments in health at work can create big returns. Reducing health risks, such as being overweight or smoking by 1% would save an average of $90 per person every year in medical costs. Wellness programs at work can reduce sick leave, medical costs and worker’s comp claims by as much as 25%.
Creating a healthier workplace makes a difference, but healthy people live in healthy communities—and businesses do well when they help build healthier communities. Furthermore, healthy communities are inviting to businesses, which helps grow the community and jobs! The article identified areas that we can improve in related to smoking, activity and healthful food.
Smoke-free strategies and education prevented 800,000 deaths related to lung cancer between 1975 and 2000. Are we careful to honor Tennessee’s smoking law and also to avoid second hand smoke?
Building healthier communities also means making physical activity easier. Here are some of the things I know about that have been happening in Grundy County. Perhaps you know of others and the folks working on these projects are to be commended. North Elementary School is putting in a walking track. Emerald-Hodgson Hospital has just opened an exercise room for their employees. Monteagle now has a biking lane going through town. The work raising funds for the Mountain Goat Trail continues. The South Cumberland State Park sponsors educational walks and hikes each month. An off-road 4-wheeler park is coming to Coalmont.
Another way of building a healthier community is making healthy foods affordable and available at work, in work meetings, in vending machines and in our community. That is one goal and purpose of the Tracy City Farmer’s Market. The Food Bank is also working to get better selections for those who use its services. And recently the TN State Health Department sent a list of the healthy foods that can be served in their meetings!
Health matters in our homes and in our communities. We can see many good changes that are happening here in Grundy County. But what we do with these options is up to us. Ultimately the choice is ours.