Tips for Managing Obesity in the Workplace

With around one in four adults currently living with obesity, the population’s weight health is becoming a growing concern in the UK workforce for both employees and employers. The effects of obesity go far beyond individual health, affecting productivity, absenteeism rates, and overall workplace well-being.

Here at Bodyline, we want to help explore the impact of obesity on the UK workforce, discuss the issue of discrimination, and provide top tips for employers to remove the stigma of obesity.

Sally-Ann Turner, CEO of Bodyline says,

“We are working across industry sectors to innovate health solutions that deliver better patient outcomes and make a positive difference in people’s lives. By partnering with specialised weight health providers like us here at Bodyline, employers can offer comprehensive support and guidance to employees. Get in touch today to find out more.”

We aim to highlight the role of occupational health in tackling this national health issue, to show how our medical weight loss programmes may benefit employees and employers alike in boosting well-being and treating obesity.

How is obesity impacting the UK workforce?

Obesity doesn’t just impact the health of individuals; it is a disease that can have wider implications for the country and its workforce as a whole. However, it is vital to reframe from common misconceptions: obesity is first and foremost a disease that for many cannot be controlled. This can be due to physical factors such as medical predispositions, genetics, and metabolism, or societal factors such as race, culture, and socio-economic status.

In many cases, obesity is not just because of poor life choices, unhealthy diets, and low activity levels, and since in some cases it cannot be prevented or controlled through lifestyle changes alone, it should be approached like most other diseases in the workplace: with care and respect.

Unfortunately, obesity is directly linked to an increased risk of life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and cancer, which can result in a higher risk of premature deaths among the working age population.

Additionally, obesity-related health problems contribute to a substantial number of lost working days each year thanks to more sick days and an increased level of absenteeism.

In fact, the UK sees 131 million working days lost annually due to sickness, and obesity plays a significant role in these absences. The economic cost of obesity-related absenteeism is estimated to be around £22 billion, a figure that is expected to rise as obesity rates increase.

In addition to absenteeism, obesity also impacts productivity in the workplace. Individuals living with obesity are more prone to workplace accidents, leading to lower efficiency and less work done.

However, the stigma surrounding weight and obesity can contribute to discrimination, prejudice, and bullying in the workplace, which is why this can be such a difficult issue to target. The stigma contributes to individual’s mental health issues – something already negatively impacted by obesity in the first place.

Can you be discriminated at work due to obesity?

Obesity discrimination in the workplace is a real and concerning issue. Individuals living with obesity may face prejudice, bias, and unfair treatment solely based on their weight. This discrimination can manifest in various forms, such as negative comments, exclusion from opportunities, and even denial of promotions or job opportunities.

In the UK, The Equality Act 2010 aims to protect employees from less favourable treatment within the workplace because they have a disability. Since obesity is now classed as a disability, and therefore protected within this act, employers must be aware and make suitable changes to the workplace environment to ensure no one is discriminated based on their weight.

Discrimination can be direct or indirect, involve harassment or victimisation, and can even happen when the person perceives you to have a disability or be obese, despite the fact you may not be.

It is important to recognize that obesity is a medical condition and should be treated as such. Just as employers have a responsibility to provide accommodations for employees with other health conditions, the same principle should apply to individuals living with obesity. Discrimination based on weight is not only unfair but also counterproductive to creating a healthy and inclusive work environment.

Contact Bodyline today to find out more about our safe and effective weight loss programmes and range of treatment options.

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What should employers do to remove the stigma of obesity: Top Tips

  1. Foster an inclusive and supportive work environment: Employers should prioritize creating an atmosphere of inclusivity and acceptance. This can be achieved through promoting diversity and encouraging open conversations about health and well-being.
  2. Educate employees about obesity: Raise awareness about the complexity of obesity and the factors that contribute to it, both physical and societal. Provide resources and educational materials to help employees better understand the challenges faced by individuals living with obesity.
  3. Promote a culture of respect: Encourage respectful communication and discourage weight-based jokes, comments, or stereotypes. Implement policies that clearly state zero-tolerance for discrimination based on weight or any other characteristic.
  4. Provide access to weight management programmes: Offer access to comprehensive weight management programmes like those offered at Bodyline that focus on overall health and well-being. Partner with specialised weight health providers through occupational health to provide personalised treatment options, including medically supervised treatments and support. Note: allow employees to volunteer for this by letting them know it is available, it’s not advisable to assume those living with obesity need this.
  5. Train managers and supervisors: Provide training for managers and supervisors to raise awareness about obesity and equip them with the knowledge and skills to support employees effectively. This training should emphasize the importance of inclusive language, non-discriminatory behaviours, and creating a supportive work environment.
  6. Offer workplace accommodations: Recognize that obesity may require certain accommodations in the workplace. This could include ergonomic equipment, flexible working hours to accommodate medical appointments, or access to healthy food options on-site.
  7. Lead by example: Promote a healthy lifestyle within the organization by providing opportunities for physical activity, healthy eating options, and wellness programs. Encourage employees to prioritize their health and well-being.

How occupational health can help tackle the issue of obesity in the workplace

Occupational health can play a crucial role in managing obesity in the workplace.  Occupational health providers can assess individual needs, provide personalised recommendations based on medical history and lifestyle, and monitor progress throughout the weight health management journey.

Providers like us here at Bodyline can offer employees access to the latest GLP1 / GLP1 GIP injectable weight health medications prescribed as part of a medically supervised weight loss programmes alongside supported behavioural changes. By taking a holistic approach to obesity management in the workplace, occupational health professionals can help employees address the underlying factors contributing to obesity and develop sustainable strategies for weight loss and overall well-being.

In addition, occupational health providers can educate employees about the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle and offer resources to support their efforts as well as reducing stigma.

By creating a supportive environment and providing access to specialised care, employers can empower their workforce to make positive changes and achieve long-term weight management goals.

For more information on managing obesity in the workplace and personalised weight management programmes, contact Bodyline Clinic today by calling 0800 995 6036 or complete an online enquiry form for a call back.

Our experienced doctors and nurses are ready to provide the guidance and support you need to create a healthier workplace environment.

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Contact Bodyline to find out more how we can treat and support you to improve your health and wellbeing.

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