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Getting Skinny on the Job

Getting Skinny on the Job

Americans should be working on losing weight like it’s their job—literally.

About two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they are costing employers billions of dollars each year. Worse yet, the percentage of obese adults has doubled during a 20-year period, topping off at 31% of the population.

If that’s not enough to keep your hands off of the doughnuts at morning meetings, consider this: Obesity costs companies $45 billion a year as a result of missed work and decreased mobility that causes a lack of workplace efficiency. People who are overweight have also shown to have more chronic health problems than those who are smokers or heavy drinkers.

But American employers have not made much of a stink about the obesity epidemic. At least, not in the same manner as some companies in Japan, where employers are measuring employees’ waists and dishing out diet advice. Many experts say, however, the lack of noise is not because employers don’t care, but simply because they may feel it is not their place to address weight issues. Still, some businesses have made healthy changes by offering discounts at health clubs or creating an office gym where employees can sweat it out on their lunch breaks.

For workers who have yet to see workplace weight loss initiatives, health experts recommend co-workers try a buddy program where they make a health pact and hit the gym together. Many studies have shown that weight loss efforts can be more effective when people have a pal who can support healthy eating and fitness habits. [New York Times]

Posted: 6/27/08