Scottish workers blame employers for contributing to obesity

Employers are being blamed for contributing to obesity levels.
Employers are being blamed for contributing to obesity levels.

Two in five Scottish workers claim their employers have directly contributed to higher levels of obesity, according to new research.

Longer working hours preventing exercise was cited by 63 per cent as the main reason for this, according to the study of 1197 workers by Willis PMI Group, part of Willis Towers Watson.

Fifty-seven per cent blamed unhealthy vending machine or ‘tuck shop’ snacks, while a lack of exercise facilities and initiatives (55 per cent) and unhealthy canteen food (42 per cent) were said to be the third and fourth biggest factors behind the assertion.

Mike Blake, director at Willis PMI Group, said: “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 in Scotland to review their existing workplace cultures and practices and, where appropriate, pro-actively adopt health and wellbeing initiatives.”

Nationwide, younger workers were more critical of their employers than their older colleagues.

Forty-two per cent of 18-34 year-olds blamed their bosses for contributing to higher levels of obesity, compared with just 29 per cent of 35-64 year-olds.

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

Mr Blake added: “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.”