Obesity in the workplace

27th October 2021

Burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches are our go-to food on most occasions these days. Despite knowing the many health risks associated with these kinds of dishes, little action do we take to address the same. In fact, we discard healthy food options while seeking to explore exotic dishes at various restaurants.

But the more we lead an unhealthy lifestyle, the sooner we become prone to all sorts of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. 

What is Obesity?

Obesity and overweight are two phrases that are now used interchangeably. Although both symptoms indicate an excess of body fat, there is a fine line between the two. Accumulation of body fat over what is needed defines both obesity and overweight.

But a person with obesity will have a much higher amount of fat than an overweight one. 

Despite being a serious health risk in itself, obesity frequently leads to a slew of other disorders, including Type 2 diabetes and various cardiac diseases.

We require fat for energy, but there is a limit to fat consumption. When the fat level exceeds 2.5% in a man while 13% in a woman, obesity gets into the scene.

The causes of obesity are manifold. Obesity can occur to a person due to inheritance, physiological, or environmental factors. Some of the common reasons are:

Eating habits

The fact that junk food is always our first option says it all. Calorie-dense foods and beverages contribute to the development of obesity in people.

Inactive Lifestyle

A Sedentary lifestyle is the new cool in the modern world. Working at computer 24×7, skimming through social media are two of the typical sedentary activities among others. A person who lives this way consumes more calories than they burn.

Diseases & Medications

Obesity can often be traced back to several medical conditions, like Cushing syndrome, arthritis, etc. These conditions lead to weight gain if we do not compensate with a healthy diet and exercise. 

Lack of Sleep

Many people believe that sleeping too much leads to weight gain. It is true, especially given the importance of a good sleep pattern. Sleep is often overlooked amid hectic work schedules Lack of sound sleep or excess sleep cause changes in hormone levels and messes with the appetite. As a result, we crave food and end up consuming more calories in the process.


We’re all under a lot of pressure. The epidemic, remote working, and longer working hours all contribute to one thing: stress. And one word usually associated with stress is emotional overeating. When confronted with stressful conditions, we are more prone to turn to food for comfort. And this comfort food can be anything from snacks to desserts. 

Obesity affecting the Workplace

Obesity brings plenty of challenges and implications for the workplace. As we know, obesity gives rise to a hundred other health complications. Obese employees are less productive than their contemporaries, which has occupational repercussions. This, in turn, will have an impact on the overall health of the firm.

Let’s take a look at the issues that arise as a result of obesity.

Healthcare costs

Companies are concerned about employee health, so they offer a variety of wellness programs to encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle. When employees fall ill, however, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide medical coverage. This is when the company-provided medical care enters the picture.

As a result, the more sick employees are, the higher the healthcare costs.


Productivity is something that naturally gets affected when one is obese. Employees with obesity are inclined to be a little clumsy and fatigued. And both these traits slow down the process of meeting specified deadlines.

Hence, obesity harms employee productivity, both on an individual and organizational level.


Sick leave is something which is put to use the most when employees are not well. This goes without saying that if a staff member falls ill, they are least likely to show up at work. 

The company’s overall growth becomes stagnant in such conditions.


Obesity is a condition for which there is a low level of awareness. There is a stigma linked to it, especially since it is related to weight gain. As a result, the problem of obesity as a serious health danger must first be normalized. Only then can steps be taken to address the issue.

Being overweight or obese is something people hesitate to express as these are not treated like other health issues.

How to address obesity in the workplace?

Healthy Cafeteria

Maintaining a healthy diet is not as simple as it may appear. Particularly, when one has to go to work on time, packing lunch from home becomes tough and skipping breakfast becomes a common occurrence. Under such circumstances, if employers fill the office canteen with solely healthy food options, employees will have no other choice but to eat whatever is available.

Isn’t that brilliant?

Gym Memberships

Gym memberships could put a dent in your employees’ wallets, which is why they might hesitate to hit the gym. So, as an employer who seeks to drive their workforce towards adopting an active lifestyle, you can offer them free gym memberships.

Once your staff joins the gym, their routine will improve. Also, before skipping a workout, they would think twice as the company is sponsoring it.

Wellness Programs

Wellness programs, as we all know, are the new cool in today’s workplace culture. Employers feel that introducing workplace wellness initiatives can do a great deal in sustaining employee productivity. Because a healthy employee leads to higher efficiency. 

Therefore, fitness programs such as walkathons, marathons, and yoga sessions—both virtual and real-world—have the potential to engage employees in physical activity. Employers should also attach rewards to the activities to increase employee participation.

Health Screenings

We must first assess whether a person is obese or overweight before moving further with obesity prevention. And because obesity is an uncommon condition, there is a considerable risk of misinterpretation.

Here, you may help your employees by providing free health tests. They can assess their BMI during these examinations, which will aid in the detection of chronic ailments. Furthermore, they can then take action based on the results of the assessment.

Weight Management Workshops

Several people eat but do not gain weight, while others eat less but gain a significant amount of weight. And everyone should be aware of the mathematics and rationale behind them. Only when we are aware of the whats and hows can we work on our weight.

Thus, weight management seminars or workshops are the greatest way to learn about overweight and obesity. It would be a win-win situation for everyone if you could instill a sense of responsibility in your staff regarding their health.

All you have to do is ask a dietician or a nutritionist to speak about the topic in detail. That way, your employees will be aware of the consequences of weight gain. The speaker will be able to guide them on what foods to eat and what not and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Wrapping it Up 

Obesity has become more frequent in recent years as a result of bad dietary choices and sedentary lifestyles. And if we continue to take our bodies for granted, things will only become worse.

Not to mention how being overweight affects our professional lives by reducing our energy and productivity.

As an employer, you should strive to create a well-informed and healthy work environment where your employees can thrive and be healthy and happy.