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A Good Beginning for ‘HEALTHY YOU’

09/22/11
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By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Sept. 22, 2011

“HEALTHY YOU,” the University initiative to improve the health and wellness of all Boston College employees, is off to an encouraging start, with statistics from its first year showing a good rate of participation — and a BC workforce that appears in generally good health.

Launched last fall, HEALTHY YOU emphasizes individual choice and responsibility through a voluntary program that focuses on wellness. It includes a range of resources to help faculty and staff avoid the risks that lead to an illness or ongoing health issue, and to improve management of a chronic illness.  

Eligible employees and their spouses were asked to fill out a personal, confidential health questionnaire — administered through Harvard Pilgrim Health Care — that included information on their biometric numbers for height, weight, blood pressure, overall and HDL cholesterol and blood glucose levels. The University also offered free biometric screenings on campus, hosted by nurses from HPHC and the Connell School of Nursing.

Statistics from the 2010-11 academic year show that 2,028 employees and their spouses took the HPHC questionnaire, or 43 percent of all those eligible. Among employees, 49 percent of those eligible completed the form, along with 31 percent of eligible spouses. Nearly 47 percent of those filling out the questionnaire were male, which HPHC officials said represented a higher percentage than is typical for similar Harvard Pilgrim outreach efforts.

The average “wellness score” for those at BC taking the questionnaire, 88.6, was significantly higher than the average result for all those completing the form — 82 — and closer to the ideal wellness score of 90. Almost 72 percent of those persons at BC who filled out the questionnaire are at what is considered a “low risk level.”

The most prevalent health risks identified among respondents included body weight, blood pressure, stress and physical activity. The top three behaviors respondents are planning to change are to increase physical activity, lose weight and reduce their fat and cholesterol consumption.

HEALTHY YOU statistics also showed that 319 participants decided to use the services of a health coach provided through the program free of charge, and set an overall total of 552 goals for improving their health.

“We are very pleased that more than 2,000 employees and spouses took the Harvard Pilgrim Health Questionnaire,” said Associate Vice President for Human Resources Robert Lewis. “Overall, the results show that our population is very healthy compared to the HQ norm. As anticipated in an adult population such as ours, the major health risks are body weight, blood pressure and stress. The health priorities for this group of employees and spouses are greater physical activity, stress management and better nutrition.

“Towards this end we will be designing HEALTHY YOU-related programs over the course of this year to help employees meet these health priorities.”

More information about BC’s HEALTHY YOU program is available at http://www.bc.edu/hr