A weighty topic for workplace health February 5th, 2014, by Ken Buckley

Talking about weight and weight loss in the workplace can be a tricky topic.

It’s perfectly normal and acceptable among friends (in fact many people spend an inordinate amount of time at work talking and thinking about their weightloss efforts), but is much more sensitive when it’s an employer talking to an employee.

Most workplace health programs carry on quite successfully without ever directly mentioning weight or obesity.

Yet the fact remains that employees who are obese have higher risks of chronic disease and higher levels of absenteeism.

We certainly don’t want to go down the path of many US organisations, who enforce regular weight checks and medical tests.

However, many employees would appreciate the opportunity to lose weight while at work – so long as it’s an opportunity that they can choose to take, or not take as the case may be.

So what’s the answer?

It comes down to how and why you do it, even more than the “what” you do.

–        Ensure it’s a mass-event, not targeted at individuals or individual groups. The exception of course is if it’s part of health coaching or wellness coaching.

–        If they asked for it, make it clear that you’re giving it to them because they requested it. This request could be from internal surveys, focus groups or just informal comments. “You asked for more weight management activities, well here it is!”

–        Talk about weight management rather than obesity. (And don’t forget the ones trying to put on weight – it’s a real health issue for some people!)

–        Tie it to a public health awareness event. For example, National Healthy Weight Week is coming up soon on 17-23 February. You could use this as a hook to launch your activities.

Some effective weight management activities might be:

–        Cooking demonstrations

–        Nutrition seminars and webinars (we have five, including Nutrition For Life and Food Fads)

–        Exercise-based campaigns such as Outback Walkabout

–        Nutrition campaigns

–        Group fitness classes

–        or a strategic mix of activities and events rolled out throughout the year.

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