obesity workplace wellness

Obesity Data: Work is Cut Out for Workplace Wellness

The health risks tied to obesity are stark — and the data are central to informing workplace wellness programs — as we have recently reported.

One study, titled “The impact of confounding on the associations of different adiposity measures with the incidence of cardiovascular disease,” states: “The obesity epidemic is an emerging public health problem with substantial consequences for health care expenditure and overall quality of life and wellbeing.”

Another study from The Journal of the American Medical Association titled “Trends in Obesity and Severe Obesity Prevalence in US Youth and Adults by Sex and Age, 2007-2008 to 2015-2016” also found increases in obesity.

Helping employees manage obesity — as well as the increased health risks and chronic diseases connected with obesity — is a key part of a well-run workplace wellness program. And providing clear definitions can help such programs engage employees.

What are overweight and obesity?

According to the World Health Organization, which : “Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Body mass index (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).”

Among the key facts provided by the WHO:

  • Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.
  • In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese.
  • 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.
  • Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
  • Obesity is preventable.

The WHO Fact Sheet continues: For adults, WHO defines overweight and obesity as follows:

  • overweight is a BMI greater than or equal to 25; and
  • obesity is a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

It states: “BMI provides the most useful population-level measure of overweight and obesity as it is the same for both sexes and for all ages of adults. However, it should be considered a rough guide because it may not correspond to the same degree of fatness in different individuals.”

Tomorrow: More World Health Organization data and potential lessons for well-run workplace wellness programs.