Abermed warns of the risks of an increasingly overweight workforceLegislation and Procedures // March 5, 2010
Global occupational health specialist Abermed is offering advice to workers on controlling their weight, as the Scottish Government warns of an "obesity time bomb" that could see 40 per cent of the population classed as obese by 2030.
Obesity currently costs Scotland more than £457 million a year, which could rise to more than £3 billion a year if no action is taken.
The government last week launched a plan to tackle the issue, which includes helping businesses to encourage their staff to eat healthily and be more active, and to work with schools to promote healthy habits.
Research has shown that being overweight increases the risk of accidents and injury, can make equipment and clothing unsuitable, limits workspace and increases sickness absence.
However, Abermed believes there are a number of ways organisations, and individuals, can help to prevent an increase in these issues, while promoting a healthier and more productive workforce.
Toby Donnelly, Abermed’s dietitian, believes a good health promotion package can save companies money by reducing sickness absence, improving productivity and retention of staff.
She said: “It is in an employer’s best interests to invest in promoting good health and wellbeing and support their staff to eat healthily and be more active. This can be achieved in many different ways to suit all sizes of companies and budgets."
“For those wishing to lose weight, I would stress how important it is to approach it in the right way. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution which is important to appreciate as we are all individuals but we do know that 95 per cent of dieting fails and so in order to really be successful you need to find what works for you."
“Research has shown that the factors which most successfully promote gradual, but permanent weight loss, are not only eating healthily and regular physical activity but also changing behaviour."
“This involves discovering the underlying issues around why a person has become overweight or obese and why they eat and live the way they do. It is rarely as simple as a person overeating just because they like food. If the underlying issues are not addressed then it generally leads to a long-term cycle of yoyo dieting which not only reduces self esteem but also increases risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease in the future.”
Weight issues are also responsible for a number of problems outwith the working environment, said Toby, but parents can play a key role in influencing their children’s behaviour from a young age.
“The key messages I would send to parents is that it is important to remember that food is vital fuel for growth and development so if your child eats good, nutritious food then they will have healthy, strong and well functioning bodies and minds,” she said.
“Everyone needs to eat healthily as a family – it is important to support one another and to demonstrate healthy, balanced eating habits to your children and to prevent or treat obesity in children it is also really important to increase your children’s physical activity as well as decreasing physical inactivity, for example time spent watching TV or playing computer games.
“Individuals, at the end of the day, are ultimately responsible for their own weight, health and wellbeing and so have to be ready to make changes to their diet and lifestyle and willing to take steps in order to do so.
“However, with support especially from family, friends, colleagues and employers they are more likely to engage with changing their behaviour, eating and lifestyle and so be more successful long term.”
Abermed offers a Weight Management Programme to clients, which aims to alter a person’s attitude to food, while providing a valuable insight into nutritional requirements. With the help of a qualified psychotherapist and a dietitian, the two elements help a person to achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss.