60 Year-Old Employees Have Lower Health Risks Than Many In Their 30’s

The first Britain’s Healthiest Company Report*, the biggest UK employee health study of nearly 10,000 people, shows that despite being twice as old as those in their 30s, the 60 somethings have a lower health risk. The finding is based on PruHealth’s unique Vitality Age calculator** which estimates years of life lost or gained by taking into consideration the presence or absence of certain clinical and lifestyle risk factors, and through this, can gauge a true level of health by assessing if the ‘health age’ matches the actual chronological age.


The average Vitality (health) Age of those in their 60s is 3.9 years older than their actual age, which is closer in line to those in their 20s (whose average Vitality Age is 3.8 years older than their actual age). Those in their 30s and 40s have a higher Vitality Age difference, at 4.26 and 4.3 years respectively. An older Vitality Age, due to poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and little exercise, is costing people years off their lives, making them unhealthy and old before their time.


Dr Katie Tryon, PruHealth head of clinical Vitality says: “It’s interesting to see that the Vitality Age difference is not necessarily higher for those who are older. Those in their 30s and 40s, who should be at the prime of life are letting their health suffer – perhaps prioritising a stressful job, or having to manage the pressures of new parenthood or both. Our research has highlighted that those in their 60s are closer, in terms of their health risk age difference, to those in their 20s. Perhaps, believing youth to no longer be on their side, they are more conscientious when it comes to life choices. However, no matter what age, this should be the case for everyone.”


According to the report, the biggest contributing factors for an older Vitality Age are lack of physical activity and being overweight. Out of the 10,000 UK employees who took part in the survey, nearly sixty per cent (59%) of respondents do not do enough physical activity. Even more disturbing, one in seven (15%) workers admits doing no exercise, and this is costing them a massive 7.4 years off their life.


Dr Katie Tryon continues: “The results are quite stark. Those who live an unhealthy life will live a shorter life. There are simple ways to bring down your Vitality Age: eating healthily, looking after your body by not smoking or drinking too much, and by losing excess weight. Doing regular exercise is paramount but this doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon. It can be as easy as getting off the bus a stop early or taking the stairs rather than the escalator. It’s easy to take matter into your own hands, starting small and getting bigger. The results will be undeniable.”


The report indicates that those in their 30s and 40s are subject to the strain of modern life, due to longer working hours and a tougher economic climate. On top of this, it’s these generations who are generally still working hard to climb the career ladder whilst perhaps juggling a young family. Over the years, the juggling act has changed and the generation sandwiched between young and old now have to incorporate looking after not only their children, but also the grandparents – leading them to neglect looking after themselves.


John Anderson, UK Market Business Leader for Health and Benefits at Mercer adds:  “Having multiple generations in the workplace is a challenge for modern employers, and not something benefits programmes have had to historically contend with. The needs of a millennial with no dependants are very different from those of a grandparent baby boomer having been through the housing equity boom. The case for offering employee choice is clear and it prevents wasted spend from employers rather than trying to pitch benefits at the lowest common denominator. Over the last year we have seen unprecedented demand for flexible benefits programmes to allow employers to remove duplication and inefficient benefit spend. Health needs are no different, and are becoming a greater part of modern flexible benefits programmes. It’s important for employers to provide choice and to provide options for employees to remain healthy in a way that fits in with their lifestyle. 


“Lifestyles can differ by a range of factors and generational factors are key. There will be different health challenges and needs across those different demographics and a well-designed health and wellbeing plan meets those different needs whilst containing employer spend.”


In order to encourage people to discover ‘how old they really are’, PruHealth has launched a ‘Vitality Age app’.  By answering a few health and lifestyle questions you can discover if your Vitality Age (i.e. your true health age) matches your actual age. Click here to find out more: http://pruhealth.pruhealth.co.uk/individuals/live-well/about-pruhealth-vitality.