The headline from this recent article on is pretty bleak: “Almost no one in the U.S. does everything right, healthwise.”

If you read past the clickbait, however, there is a more optimistic message to be found about the important role of wellness programs in helping individuals get healthy and stay that way.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified five key actions people could take to reduce the likelihood of developing a chronic condition, like heart disease or cancer.

The key actions themselves should all be familiar: not smoking, exercising regularly, drinking in moderation (or not at all), maintaining a healthy weight, and getting seven or more hours of sleep each night. These actions have been the subject of PSAs, First Lady Obama’s “Get Moving” campaign, and other public awareness efforts. Yet despite their ubiquitousness, just 6% of people do all five.

Wellness programs generally focus on two categories of health: 1) lifestyle, which is focused on prevention and cultivating healthy habits, and 2) chronic disease management, which focuses on managing conditions once they have already developed.

Needless to say, preventing a chronic disease is easier and less expensive than managing one, and the five key actions described by the CDC should be fundamental ingredients in wellness programs. Programs that target all five health-related behaviors will have more success as they implement a coordinated approach, rather than a narrow focus on one aspect of health.

Plan sponsors looking to optimize health outcomes: take inventory of your wellness programs and be sure you are helping to drive engagement in these five essential health behaviors. And don’t stop there; it’s important that you measure the outcomes in your population to know whether you are moving the needle.

For the complete article from, click here.

[Photo Credit: maxiub on Flickr via Creative Commons 2.0]