People who may lead unhealthy lifestyles are more likely to be associated with high levels of lost productivity, according to a recent study published in the scientific journal Population Health Management.

The study, conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University, the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) and the Center for Health Research at Healthways examined data from 19,803 employees working at three separate large companies to determine the relationship between general wellness and presenteeism.

Presenteeism occurs when an workers' efficiency levels are diminished as a result of an illness, injury or other cause.

The study found employees with an unhealthy diet were 66 percent more likely to report experiencing a loss in productivity than workers ate fruits, vegetables and whole grains regularly. In addition, people who exercised only occasionally were 50 percent more likely to feel low levels of efficiencies as those who exercised often.

"Total health-related employee productivity loss accounts for 77 percent of all such loss and costs employers two to three times more than annual healthcare expenses," said lead author Ray Merril.

The study highlights the important role wellness initiatives play in company performance. HR administration professionals and employers should work together to determine what types of health programs best fit their workforce needs.

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