Reform Through Education and Fitness Address Obesity

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Dame Carol Black in her “Working for a healthier tomorrow” (2008) report provide evidence linking good employee health and wellbeing and business, individual and societal outcomes.

The report concluded that if organisations placed an increased focus on improving workplace health then cost savings could be generated for the organisation and government. Importantly the review also noted that organisations need a conscious shift in attitude to ensure that both employees and employers understand and recognise the importance of preventing ill-health so that the workforce becomes motivated, resourceful and resilient attributes.

However, with the rise in employee long-term health conditions putting their participation in work at risk, it is important to develop a work environment where everyone has a chance to fulfil their potential, and barriers and stigma preventing this need to be removed. One health condition that this still very much relates to is obesity.

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.

For adults, WHO defines overweight is a Body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25 and obesity is a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

BMI is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).

According to the WHO, between 1975 and 2016, the frequency of obesity worldwide nearly tripled. Overall, in 2016, 39% of men and 40% of women aged 18 years or older were considered overweight. Furthermore, 11% of men and 15% of women were obese.

It slowly becoming a global health epidemic, the prevalence of obesity has risen drastically over the past two decades.

Weight and obesity related health problems linked to the appearance of a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The damage and costs associated with obesity consist of increased health care costs decreased productivity and premature deaths.

Obesity also has an economic impact and its global economic impact amounts to roughly $2 trillion annually, or 2.8 percent of global GDP. A study conducted by “The Economist” shows that the total cost of obesity in Malaysia lies between US$4-7bil (RM17-30bil). This is equivalent to about 2% of the country’s total GDP.

The damage and costs associated with obesity consist of increased health care costs, decreased productivity, and premature deaths. As a preventable disease, reforms must be made to address obesity through education, fitness, media, and employers.

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