Adrian Gore, CEO of Vitalitys parent company Discovery Ltd., joined Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on a panel moderated by Chelsea Clinton at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative on September 24 in New York City. The group discussed how we can all help prioritize prevention for healthier futures. This unique discussion between global health and life insurer Discovery, Director General of WHO, and president of RWJF highlights the increased openness for discussion and collaboration between sectors to improve health.
The group discussion highlighted the importance of positioning prevention at the center of the health debate, investing in more economical measures to address the rise of non-communicable diseases and leveraging new insights from the field of behavioral economics to incentivize change at home and in the workplace. As the sole representative of the business community at the Plenary session, Gore urged companies to take responsibility for their employees wellness to begin to seriously fight the rise of chronic disease in the United States and around the world. Non-communicable diseases now account for 63% of deaths worldwide.
When business leaders focus on health and prevention the effects on their employees are dramatic, he said.
Adrian is well positioned to discuss prevention as businesses are currently on the front lines of public health, with the opportunity to create a healthy environment that employees will spend most of their waking time. Promoting healthy behaviors in the workplace offers opportunity for improved productivity and reduced absenteeism, in addition to improved health. In the US, improved health also translates to reduced health care costs for employers.
At the meeting Gore shared a recent study on Vitality Age in the US, which shows that on average, Americans are five years older than they think and the incidence of chronic disease like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes is rapidly increasing. This Vitality Age is an interactive risk score based entirely on modifiable risk factors for cardio-metabolic disease for which there is evidence of a relationship between levels of risk and disease, including BMI, smoking, physical activity, alcohol intake, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, fasting glucose, total cholesterol, psychological distress, and nutritional risk (based on dietary behavior and sugar, salt, and trans-fat intake). Vitality Age serves as a simple metric to track and motivate healthier behaviors at the individual, company and country level. The greater the gap between actual age and Vitality Age, the greater the potential for, or failure to fully apply, effective preventive measures.
In keeping with its mission to share best practices and evidence-based solutions to improve health, the Vitality Institute is committed to improving Vitality Age as additional research comes out and investigate opportunities in behavioral economics to motivate change for healthier behaviors. To fulfill this mission, the Institute convened a Commission of thought leaders to drive US Healthcare policy, led by Chair William B. Rosenzweig, managing partner at Physic Ventures. The Commission comprises prominent thinkers throughout government, health and business.
Just this past week, the Institute held its first Forum at the New York Academy of Sciences focused on leveraging technology for health promotion and disease prevention. Technology is a critical opportunity for business to support improving health. The meeting gathered individuals from industry, government, academia and non-profit organizations to examine the latest innovations to reduce risk associated with chronic disease as a result of poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, and minimal drug adherence. Dialogue from the event generated insights on technological innovations in relation to the Commissions work. The Commission and its recommendations will be available in spring, 2014.
Watch a recording of the plenary session at http://new.livestream.com/CGI/CGI2013