Lifestyle risk factors are more prevalent among low income earners, a study has found, demonstrating a direct link between income and health.
The Britain's Healthiest Company study of almost 10,000 workers carried out by PruHealth and Mercer found that on average nationally, those on the highest salaries had a health age of almost two years younger than those on the lowest.
The finding was reached using PruHealth's Vitality Age calculator which estimates the years of life lost or gained by taking into consideration the presence or absence of certain lifestyle risk factors.
Additional factors such as weight, diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol intake, stress and blood pressure were also taken into account to understand individual's health.
Regionally, London had the slimmest workers with 65% in the healthy range with the capital's employees also doing the most exercise (45%), while the North East came up top for eating healthily (74%), smoking the least (26%) and being the most conscious about their health, attending an average of 1.44 health screenings every year.
In Wales, almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents admitted to not exercising enough and over half (55%) said they smoked. Just 42% of employees in the West Midlands fell within the healthy weight range, while 57% said they ate a healthy, balanced diet.
Overall 86% of British workers were recorded as having an average health age of 4.1 years older than their real age due to unhealthy lifestyles. In comparison to Wales where individuals were 5.5 years older than their real age, London workers had a health age of 3.2 years older than their actual age.
PruHealth head of clinical vitality Dr Katie Tryon said: "This map paints a fascinating picture of the health of the corporate nation. It shows how employees' lifestyles are impacting their overall health and ultimately reducing their life expectancy. There is a clear picture of how each region is performing and where the hotspots are.
"Most of us start the New Year with good intentions. By making lifestyle adjustments now staff can improve their quality of life and not only live longer, but live healthier lives and reduce their chances of developing a chronic disease.
"Loss of productivity and absenteeism levels are of growing concern to many companies which are starting to see a potential timebomb. The combination of an ageing workforce and increasing sickness levels due to lifestyle-related illnesses, will directly impact the bottom line," she concluded.
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