Businesses are being urged to encourage staff to adopt healthier lifestyles to save money.
Research from Bupa suggests people who lead unhealthy lives are costing employers, the NHS and themselves £17.7bn a year.
The study, carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, calculated the immediate and long-term potential savings that could be possible if obesity rates stop rising; the 26% of smokers who attempt to quit each year are successful; and excessive drinkers bring their intake down to recommended levels.
It found businesses would enjoy immediate savings from increased productivity and a reduction in sick pay of almost £1.8bn per year lost through alcohol abuse.
The research suggests this figure would rise to almost £2.2bn by 2025, plus £61m a year lost through absences caused by smoking-related illnesses.
A further £490m a year would be saved by 2025 on obesity-related conditions, it found.
Copyright © Press Association 2011
Do you agree that employees should be encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyles? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Yes, I believe all persons should be more responsible for their health. The message on self-care should be more pronounced ie on all TV advert and conspicuously place in other media outlet. The NHS is perceived as the organisation to cure all ills
without any consideration of who pays. Anything that is free will always be the subject of abuse. I believe some health services should be paid for particularly by those who have no intention of changing their lifestyle The NHS should focus some of its resource more on health prevention. Also be honest with patients when suggesting changes to health funding and health care. There is a culture that has developed around healthcare – destroy your health and the NHS will pull out all the stops to cure you. I am not in perfect health but do consider ill health prevention in my daily living" – V Henry, London
"It's refreshing to see that a smoker agrees that they should pay a tax on healthcare as a result of a habit, but as an aside I would like to say that perhaps employers need to look at the amount of hours they expect their employees to work each week, so that employees might get some time to undertake exercise in conjunction with everything else they're expected to cram into an ever-shorter week. There are more reasons than smokers and general health abusers as to why the NHS is overburdened, as well as why it costs employers so much in lost working time each year... surely there's more to life than striving to rake in as much money as one can possibly acquire! Sure, address the problem of smoking and alcohol and drug abuse, but shouldn't we be addressing the root cause as well?" – Andrew Thomas, South Wales
"Yes I do and I also feel that there should be a tax on people who use the health system for treatment which is preventable. Drug and alcahol abuse, smokers (which I am one), obesity etc. Why pay for system abusers? They (including me) should get a bill after treatment for time wasting or should pay for private insurance to cover their indiscretions" – Chris Bell, London