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. (1,2)

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.