Obesity workplace wellness

Workplace Wellness Can Educate Employees About Healthy Eating, Obesity

We recently noted how exposure to communities with higher rates of obesity may correlate to increased body mass index (BMI) and risk of overweight/obesity of individual residents.

The study, “Association of Exposure to Communities With Higher Ratios of Obesity with Increased Body Mass Index and Risk of Overweight and Obesity Among Parents and Children,” found that “exposure to communities with higher rates of obesity is associated with higher BMI and greater risk of overweight and/or obesity in parents and children, and this may suggest the presence of social contagion.”

The study’s conclusion: “Exposure to counties with higher rates of obesity was associated with higher BMI and higher odds of overweight and/or obesity in parents and children. There was no evidence to support self-selection or shared built environments as possible explanations, which suggests the presence of social contagion in obesity.”

In the face of this type of obstacle, one thing a well-run workplace wellness program can do is help educate employees about healthy eating and obesity. Among other tactics, that can include helping individuals understand more about hunger.

The Washington Post outlines several “obstacles to healthy eating,” which include understanding “why you’re still hungry.” These include:

  • “Your body thinks it’s in a famine: …increases in appetite may play a more important role than a slowing metabolism in weight-loss plateaus. For each kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight lost, we burn about 20 to 30 fewer calories per day — even fewer for some people — whereas appetite grows by about 100 calories per day. Basically, it’s easier for your body to protect itself by boosting your appetite — and your calorie intake — than to slow your metabolism and run on fewer calories.”
  • “You’re not getting enough protein at meals: Of the three macronutrients — carbohydrates, protein and fat — protein contributes the most to satiety, the feeling that you’ve eaten enough.”
  • “You aren’t sleeping enough. Chronically skimping on sleep can lead to increased hunger and carbohydrate cravings, possibly because of the loss of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Results of a 2015 study published in the journal Sleep Medicine suggest that the loss of our final REM sleep cycle of the night may lead to a bigger appetite.”

This is just one area of personal and collective well-being in which a well-run workplace wellness program can make a healthy difference in employees’ every day lives.