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Understanding The Weight Of Obesity In The Workplace: Here's What You Can Do

blog fitness health obesity Workplace
Over the past couple of decades, a variety of cultural factors have contributed to the emergence of an 'obesity epidemic' throughout the UK. Indeed, reports from the HSE found that a combination of dietary changes, less physically demanding jobs, increased use of automated transport and rising popularity in technology (e.g. mobile phones, television and smart devices) that permits a sedentary lifestyle have had negative impacts on the nation's obesity rates. In fact, over 60 per cent of British adults are currently classified as being overweight or obese. 

The weight of obesity concerns among your employees can have serious workplace implications as well. Seeing as overweight or obese individuals have an increased risk of suffering from additional health complications (e.g. diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory issues, cancer, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnoea and depression), obesity in the workplace can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and overall higher organisational costs. Nevertheless, you can help reduce the risks of obesity within your workplace by promoting various employee health and well-being initiatives. Consider this guidance to foster a healthy workforce and reap the benefits:

  • Encourage physical activity - Help your employees stay active at work by offering an on-site workout facility or discounted memberships to local gyms, promoting a cycle-to-work scheme, holding various fitness-related challenges or fundraisers (e.g. a stepping contest or a company run/walk) and permitting a full lunch hour that allows employees to incorporate exercise time.
  • Offer healthy eating options - Motivate employees to eat a balanced diet by offering healthy choices in your workplace cafeteria and vending machines, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and yogurt. In addition, encourage employees to bring healthy snacks or shareable dishes to workplace meetings and events.
  • Provide proper resources - Be sure to educate employees with proper resources about the various risks of obesity and healthy methods for managing their weight. Further, it's important to provide ongoing training that prevents prejudice towards obese employees.

Contains public sector information published by the HSE and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
© 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. This publication is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as compliance or legal advice. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly.