Date: 11 Jun 2014

A simple healthy lifestyle index as a proxy of wellness: a proof of concept

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Abstract

The evidence supporting the importance of a healthy lifestyle (active life, healthy diet, not smoking, and low stress) as a part of programs for primary and secondary prevention of cardiometabolic diseases is strong, compelling, and continuously growing. In this study, we test whether a simple web-based healthy lifestyle index, using self-reports, is related to indices of cardiovascular health and metabolic syndrome and could be employed in large wellness programs intended to promote healthy lifestyle. We studied 411 workers in an Italian multinational factory who were enrolled in a voluntary program consisting of a health checkup and an online questionnaire on lifestyle. These domains were combined into a single simple index. Participants were subdivided into three healthy lifestyle index (HI) groups (red, yellow, and green) ranging from poor to good HI quality (HI from red to green: 41.8 ± 14.6; 75.7 ± 8.5; 93.8 ± 2.2; p < 0.05). The groups differed in indicators of cardiovascular and metabolic health (waist circumference females: 82.1 ± 9.56, 78.9 ± 9.3, 72.7 ± 6.6; males: 95.2 ± 11.7, 90.0 ± 9.5, 85.7 ± 6.1 cm; group difference p < 0.05). Moreover, they differed significantly in the likelihood of having more components of the metabolic syndrome and, conversely, fewer components of the ideal cardiovascular health profile (with red having the worst profile). The red group was also characterized by the highest absenteeism. We report for the first time that a web-based self-reported poor health behavior was significantly associated with clinical and laboratory (partial correlation between HI and high-density cholesterol 0.192; body mass index −0.288; systolic blood pressure −0.130; all p < 0.05) results indicating a negative cardiometabolic profile.

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