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July 11, 2014
New resource could help improve employee health

Employees with risk factors for heart disease and stroke (high cholesterol, poor nutrition, tobacco use, lack of exercise, and high stress) cost employers considerably more in health care, absenteeism, and productivity. If you’re concerned about the impact of heart disease on your workforce, you may want to check out a new resource on heart-healthy eating.

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With produce abundant and affordable this time of year, summer is a great time to encourage employees to eat a healthier diet.  Million Hearts (http://www.millionhearts.hhs.gov), a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has launched a Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Resource Center. The online resource features recipes and meal plans that emphasize managing sodium intake, which is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Million Hearts seeks to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.  The new healthy eating initiative was launched in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose director, Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, explains, “This resource helps people see that it’s not about giving up the food you love, but choosing lower sodium options that taste great.” Frieden says it would be possible to prevent 11 million cases of high blood pressure each year if everyone reduced their daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams.

Food for thought: Good nutrition is good business

Encouraging your employees to eat better can have a number of benefits for employers. Among them:

  • Reducing the risk of expensive chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes,
  • Improving employee energy and productivity,
  • Showing workers that you care about their well-being, and
  • Creating a culture of health and wellness that enhances your reputation and earns employee loyalty.

Help employees improve their nutrition with options like these:

  • Offer Meatless Monday specials in your company cafeteria.
  • Subsidize healthy meal choices that feature fruits and vegetables and low-fat protein and dairy.
  • Promote healthy brown bagging by providing water and fruit.
  • Serve heart-healthy foods at meetings and conferences.
  • Plan a make-your-own healthy sandwich buffet instead of a pizza party to mark your next safety milestone.
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