Obesity in the Workplace by Doris Silva
Employers have pursued many strategies over the years to control health care costs and improve care. Disappointed by efforts to manage costs through the use of insurance-related techniques (e.g., prior authorization, restricted provider networks), employers have also begun to try to manage health by addressing their employees’ key lifestyle risks. Reducing obesity (along with tobacco use and inactivity) is a priority for employers seeking to lower the incidence and severity of chronic illness and the associated demand for health services. (U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health).
Obesity is a condition where a person has accumulated so much body fat that it could negatively impact their health. According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), they estimate that three-fourths of the American population will likely be overweight or obese by the year 2020. Their latest polls show more than one-third if U.S. adults are obese and seventeen percent of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are overweight. Obesity causes many health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and certain cancers. Medical care costs for obese Americans are very high. This is due to the chronic obesity-related medical conditions that arise from being overweight. Obesity is very common in the U.S. with more than 3 million cases per year. It’s usually self-treatable but can have lasting health conditions if not taken care of right away.
Obesity is the condition of being grossly overweight. More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.
Who can be affected by obesity?
Ultimately anyone can be affected. Obesity does not discriminate by age, color, or ethnicity.
What causes obesity?
A lot of different things can cause obesity. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors. Only in rare cases is being overweight caused by a medical condition such as a hormonal problem.
How do you know if you are obese?
Body mass index (BMI) is a calculation of height and weight. For many, BMI is an effective estimate of body fat. A BMI of 25-29.9 is overweight and any BMI higher is considered obese.
What are the symptoms of obesity?
There are many symptoms of obesity. You may experience fatigue, snoring, or have a pot belly. You might also have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or joint pain/disease. Along with these medical conditions, you may also encounter psychosocial problems such as low self-esteem, discrimination, and reduced quality of life. See a provider for more information.
How do you prevent obesity in the workplace?
- Healthful on-site dining, with the healthiest selections labeled at each station; healthy “grab and go” choices; a daily “smaller portion, smaller price, smaller you” option, allowing employees to purchase a reduced portion of an entrée and vegetable side at a reduced price.
- No candy or high-calorie impulse purchases at the checkout and receipts can be obtained that have total calories, saturated fat, and salt printed on the receipt.
- Offer healthy snack items in vending machines.
- A free bottle of water with the purchase of a designated “value-added meal” (a healthy entrée); after purchasing six healthy entrées on a punch card, the seventh is free.
- In newly built buildings, attractive, open stairwells with changing visual stimulation (works from the corporate art collection have been hung in stairwells at various times).
- Attractive walking paths between buildings (in addition to shuttle buses).
- On-site fitness centers.
- Regular campaigns and communications on nutrition, weight management, and physical activity, including individual employees’ success stories.
- Health professionals on-site who serve as champions for healthy lifestyles and make themselves available for questions and consultation on health and behavior change.
- Tobacco-free campus.
Did you know?
According to the CDC, obesity affects some groups more than others. Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rate of obesity (48.1%) followed by Hispanics (42.5%), non-Hispanic whites (34.5%), and non-Hispanic Asians (11.7%). Obesity is higher among middle age adults age 40-59 years (40.2%) and older adults age 60 and over (37.0%) than among younger adults age 20–39 (32.3%).
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.