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British Cardiovascular Society

Clinical Articles, Lead Article, Uncategorized

The Workplace Hinders Healthy Lifestyle

Despite the vast majority (91%) of workers believing that it is their employer’s responsibility to create a healthy working environment, nearly a third (32%) of employees feel their workplace actually hinders their ability to lead a healthy lifestyle, according to new independent research commissioned by the World Heart Federation and conducted by Opinion Health.

The results coincided with World Heart Day, on 26 September and this year , the largest global awareness campaign on heart disease and stroke, initiated by the World Heart Federation and supported by the British Cardiovascular Society. World Heart Day this year called on employees and employers to take action to improve heart health in the workplace.

The survey compared responses from employees across five job sectors in India, Mexico, Poland and Portugal,* and revealed that of those questioned:

  • One out of ten (11%) workers do not agree that their employer supports a healthy workplace, despite six out of ten employees (63%) rating support of healthy initiatives, and eight out of ten (80%) rating health insurance, as important when choosing an employer
  • Significantly more people in the Agriculture/Manual Labour Sector (such as farmers and builders) work more than 50 hours per week. More people in this sector said they do not take steps to ensure they lead a healthy lifestyle, and were more likely to take time off work due to sickness, with nearly a quarter (22%) having had 11 or more sick days in the past year
  • Professional Business employees (such as lawyers and accountants) were significantly more likely than other occupational sectors to state that their employer offers five or six workplace-wellness programmes and initiatives (such as smoking-cessation programmes or walk to work days)
  • People in the Government and Public Sector (such as healthcare professionals or educators) and Professional Business Sector (such as lawyers and accountants) were more likely than those in the Manufacturing/Engineering Sector (such as trade and distribution) to take four steps towards a heart-healthy lifestyle (for example, undertaking physical exercise at least three times a week, or not smoking)

office2“The survey results suggest links between different job sectors and the level of engagement in workplace-wellness initiatives, or steps taken towards a heart-healthy lifestyle” explains Dr Kathryn Taubert, Senior Science Officer, World Heart Federation. “As many of us spend over half of our waking hours at work, the workplace is the ideal setting to encourage behaviours to minimise a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Every year, approximately 17.1 million lives are claimed by the global burden of cardiovascular disease,[i] and yet, most heart disease and stroke is preventable.  On World Heart Day the World Heart Federation and the British Cardiovascular Society encouraged both employers and employees to take simple steps to improve   heart-health in their workplace.  For example, employers might like to promote physical activity via gym memberships or cycle to work schemes.  Employees could ensure they eat healthily at work, and stop smoking to ensure a smoke-free workplace.

World Heart Day is a major international awareness day dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and control of heart disease and stroke,” states Professor Pekka Puska, President, World Heart Federation. “We hope that this day motivates people to take preventative action to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, and that people around the world will join us in both celebrating World Heart Day, and in the global fight against heart disease and stroke.”


Survey Methodology

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Opinion Health. Total sample size was 4,000 men and women in employment, in Poland, Mexico, India and Portugal.  Research was conducted online and completed in July – August 2010.  Data has been weighted and is nationally representative of each market.

*Poland, Mexico, India and Portugal were chosen as the survey countries due to their varied distribution across the World Bank’s classification of countries based on gross national income (GNI) per capita, to allow global generalizations from the survey data: please refer to for further details on country classifications.


[1] Opinion Health Online Healthcare Consumer Survey, September 2010. Data on file

[1] World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Available at  Accessed 03 September

Published on: November 3, 2010

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