This month, research has highlighted the ravages of sleep deprivation on business. We’ve also learnt that employers who emphasise work-life balance reap the rewards, although many are still in denial (or blissfully unaware) of the benefits… Depression appears to have taken over from stress as the primary mental health concern for employees, and closely related to this information, scientists have been measuring the benefits of a positive outlook on things. We also take a quick look at the occupational hazards of being an astronaut.

Finally, the government has introduced new guidelines on sugar: it might be a shock to the system! However, too little too late sprang to mind when the latest diabetes figures caught the headlines…


Huge rise in UK diabetes cases threatens to bankrupt NHS, charity warns

This is a trend which I believe any business with a long term strategic view should consider carefully: Diabetes UK have rung alarm bells over the 60% increase in diabetes cases in the past 10 years. That’s an additional one million sufferers, bringing the total to 3.3 Million. The total cost to the NHS is £10 Billion a year and it could go bankrupt within one generation if the trend continues.

This study published earlier this year outlined the heavy economic cost, including for employers… and it’s set to increase, but what will happen if the NHS is no longer able to cope?

The Guardian, 17th August


New government sugar advice will mean ‘extreme’ diet changes

At least, there is some progress, and looks as if the Department of Health might soon be reducing the amount of sugar recommended as part of a healthy diet.

After a seven-year inquiry, this could be the first change to public nutrition guidance on sugar since 1991 and will fuel the debate about whether sugary foods and drinks should be more heavily taxed. The proposed limit on sugar, 25g for women and 35g for men, is the equivalent of a single can of coca-cola a day – and no other sugary food at all.

The Telegraph, 12th July


The average worker loses 11 days of productivity each year due to insomnia

The Washington Post rounded up research showing the ravages of sleep deprivation on business.. it’s not just about productivity, research shows the detrimental effect insomnia can have on behaviour.

As a result, increasing numbers of employers are making support available to their staff.

The Washington Post, 30th July

And yet, at the same time, there’s still a way to go…

Employers failing to recognise a good work-life balance pays

We often get asked about ROI on wellbeing investment… According to a new survey, companies that help their staff to achieve a good work-life balance earn 27% more from each employee compared to the average. In spite of this only 6% of HR decision makers regarded improving work-life balance as a key priority for their departments. Hmm… room for others to gain a strategic edge?

FT Adviser, 22nd July


40% rise in employees seeking assistance for depression

I was on site with one of our stress management specialists when this finding came up in conversation. Her take on it was interesting: depression is the natural aftermath of burnout brought on by continuous stress. Stress has been at the top of most wellbeing agendas for the past couple of years, so it’s hardly surprising that depression should follow on a large scale.

The information is based on Canada Life Group Insurance’s call statistics. According to them, 21% of employee assistance requests are related to mental health, almost a third of which were linked to depression. A warning to employers to address this problem as well as that of stress.

Employee Benefits, 20th July


And while on the subject of depression, some new research by Cornell University and Penn State psychologists gave some insights into the link with physical wellbeing:

Being positive amid daily stress is good for long-term health

The study found that those people who had difficulty maintaining a positive outlook during times of stress appeared to be particularly at risk for elevated levels of inflammation, putting them at risk of cardiovascular and autoimmune conditions.

It’s how people react to daily stressors that counts. More so than the frequency of stress… which gives us a higher degree of control in fact. So techniques such as mindfulness can be very effective at creating more positive mental habits, with far reaching benefits for health too.

MedicalXpress, 17th July

Fascinating insights into the occupational hazards of future astronauts making the trip to Mars… and it’s all to do with gut bacteria

And concluding this month’s round up with an extreme occupational wellbeing hazard… scientists at Peking University have suggested that prolonged spaceflight may compromise the balance of gut bacteria, leading to possible inflammatory bowel disease.

Not something most of us need to worry about, but certainly relevant to all of us in terms of the huge role played by our gut bacteria. Expect to see an explosion of microbiome studies in the next few months, revealing a whole new understanding and approach to healthcare. Now of course we nutritionists have always recommended ‘healing the gut first’ and it starts with a simple whole food healthy diet… but that’s something for another round-up!

Business Standard, 6th August

Are you responsible for wellbeing in your organisation?

I’d love to discuss your strategic wellbeing plan with you and see how we can help your organisation gain a competitive advantage as a result. Contact Angela Steel on 07828 293 386 or email