Employers making us obese say workers

ObesityMore than a third of UK workers claim their employers have directly contributed to higher levels of obesity, with 34 per cent blaming their work conditions, new research has revealed.

Longer working hours preventing exercise was cited by 59 per cent as the main reason for this, according to the study of 1,197 workers by Willis PMI Group, part of Willis Towers Watson.

The research found that of those believing their employer contributed to their obesity, 48 per cent blamed a lack of exercise facilities and initiatives, while unhealthy vending machine or ‘tuck shop’ snacks were a factor for 44 per cent and 38 per cent thought unhealthy canteen food contributed.

Younger workers were more critical of their employers than their older colleagues. Forty-two per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds blamed their bosses for contributing to higher levels of obesity, compared with just 29 per cent of 35 to 64-year-olds.

The study revealed that only 15 per cent of employers currently offer cut-price gym memberships, 13 per cent offer on-site gym facilities, 10 per cent offer fitness classes and just 6 per cent offer dedicated weight-loss schemes.

Willis PMI Group director Mike Blake says: “The government estimates obesity contributes to the loss of 16 million certified incapacity days each year and this research suggests employers may be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

“The findings call for businesses to review their existing workplace cultures and practices and, where appropriate, proactively adopt health and wellbeing initiatives.

“Support and education for employees to combat obesity can be relatively inexpensive to implement, but by encouraging staff to lead healthier lifestyles businesses can help cut obesity-related illnesses and the associated business risks.”