Obesity Prevention On the Job

Work is a reality of life for the vast majority of people across the globe, and little apart from sleep consumes as much time in people’s days. As with school in youth, the workplace is very much a microcosm of the adult world—filled with elements that promote health as well as elements that diminish it. This makes the workplace an ideal, focused, and efficient avenue for improving health and tackling many of the key contributors to the obesity epidemic.

Obesity, with its links to many chronic conditions, is a huge drain on individual as well as corporate health. It can sap productivity, worsen mobility and morale, and increase healthcare claims, sick days, and occupational injuries. (1Opens in New Window,2Opens in New Window)

Effective programs take a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on providing workers with the knowledge, skills, and support to eat a healthier diet and be more active. This can include nutrition classes, onsite exercise facilities and changing rooms, access to nutritionists and other counselors, and worksite or company-wide policies that provide healthier food options and reimburse exercise-related expenses.

Less apparent policy changes can also be helpful. While most workplace obesity prevention programs focus on helping to create and sustain behavior change in individuals, growing evidence points to some characteristics of the workplace itself as initiators of weight gain and obesity.

Terms of Use

The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source Web site is to provide timely information about obesity’s global causes, consequences, prevention, and control, for the public, health and public health practitioners, business and community leaders, and policymakers. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The Web site’s obesity prevention policy recommendations are based primarily on a review of U.S. expert guidance, unless otherwise indicated; in other countries, different policy approaches may be needed to achieve improvements in food and physical activity environments, so that healthy choices are easy choices, for all.