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Group benefits plan sponsors, take note: your plan members may be underestimating their heart health risks.

A study comparing data from a Desjardins Insurance survey and statistics collected by the Heart and Stroke Foundation indicates that people generally evaluate their health positively when responding to non-specific questions about their lifestyle, but responses to more specific questions demonstrate that their behaviours may not be as healthy as they believe.

For example, 60% of respondents to the Desjardins survey felt that they had a healthy weight. But data from a Heart and Stroke Foundation risk assesment showed that 60% were actually overweight or obese.

There were a number of other major discrepancies between the two sets of data.

    • While 71% of Desjardins survey respondents claim a healthy diet, only 47% of risk assessment participants said they ate sufficient fruits and vegetables each week.
    • Only 11% of men in the Desjardins survey felt that their drinking negatively impacted their health, while 31% of men in the risk assessment sample drank more than the recommended amount.
    • 60% of Desjardins respondents felt they exercised enough to be healthy, compared with just 50% when risk assessment respondents were asked about their specific exercise habits.

“The results of the comparison were striking,” said Marie-Josee Labelle, director of marketing, individual insurance and savings, with Desjardins Insurance. “There seems to be a substantial difference between how Canadians view their health and what the experts recommend as a healthy lifestyle.”

“February is Heart Month, which is the perfect time to identify your own risk factors and to learn how to change them,” says Labelle. “Since the risk of heart disease and stroke can be reduced by as much as 80% through healthy lifestyle choices, making changes can make a big difference to the health of many Canadians.”

© Copyright 2014 Rogers Publishing Ltd. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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