Obesity is a chronic and progressive health condition, and its effects have only been compounded by the pandemic. In fact, obesity now affects more than 40% of adults in the United States, and it’s become a growing source of workplace risk, contributing to higher work-related accidents, higher health care costs, increased chronic conditions, musculoskeletal problems, absenteeism and loss of productivity. A growing body of research shows that people with obesity are also at greater risk of suffering from severe COVID-19 complications and hospitalization.
New data suggests that for individuals under the age of 65 — the bulk of the American workforce — obesity is the most common underlying condition in COVID-19 associated hospitalization, more common than hypertension, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. According to the American Psychological Association, 42% of Americans have gained an average of 29 pounds since the beginning of the pandemic. This spike in the obesity rate has created a potential tsunami of subsequent diseases, such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, musculoskeletal conditions and multiple cancers.
So, what role do employers play in the obesity epidemic in America, and how can companies mitigate the effects of obesity in their workforce? Here are a few suggestions:
- Incorporate nutrition/healthy eating and physical activity into worksite wellness and health promotion programs
- Encourage healthier behaviors in both nutrition and physical activity
- Incorporate educational programs, behavioral counseling or environmental change strategies into your wellness programming
- Consider structured wellness programs and screenings to better engage employees and to increase the opportunity for successful outcomes
- Offer weight management programs or incorporate weight management into worksite wellness and health promotion programs
- Offer onsite health screenings or health risk assessments
Incorporating these types of programs into your company’s wellness initiatives can help to reduce risks related to obesity and make a significant impact on the overall health of your employees.
Mercy Occupational Medicine offers onsite wellness programs and biometric screenings for businesses in WNC. To explore these options for your company, contact us at 828-274-6707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: NAOHP, Harvard School of Public Health