Employers who provide workplace health programmes could be offered financial incentives under proposals suggested by the head of the NHS.
Speaking at Public Health England's national conference in Coventry, chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens suggested that employers should receive tax relief on money spent to keep their workforce healthy, in particular targeting obesity, the Financial Times wrote.
Stevens warned that if employee's health problems were not tackled - with a particular focus on obesity which lacked employer support - taxes would need to be increased in order for the NHS to continue operating.
As an example, just a third of NHS trusts offered employees support to help control their weight compared to three out of four that helped them to quit smoking. A further three quarters did not offer healthy food to employees working night shifts.
"Obesity is the new smoking, and it represents a slow-motion car crash in terms of avoidable illness and rising healthcare costs," Stevens said.
He added that the NHS had a responsibility to set an example to other employers in the support it gave its staff to remain fit and healthy.
The proposals are part of a set of wider recommendations on how to keep the NHS financially sustainable, due to be published next month.
According to YuLife’s Employee Health & Wellbeing Survey
From £7 per employee a month
‘Employers can take action now’
Nearly three quarters have seen their income reduce
£4m GWP per annum across its portfolio