Insurance · 19 July 2016

Employees blame bosses for obesity, but Jamie Oliver puts onus on Theresa May

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver has begged Theresa May to push through a sugar tax

More than one-third of UK workers think their bosses are to blame for rising obesity levels, according to new research by health insurance company Willis PMI Group.

The study of almost 1,200 employees found that 59 per cent of those who do hold business leaders responsible for the public health problem think long working days that prevent workers exercising are a key cause. Almost half pointed a finger at working spaces without fitness facilities, while unhealthy food on offer in the workplace also took a share of the blame.

The research follows comments made in June 2016 by Royal College of Surgeons fellow Nigel Hunt, who criticised “cake culture” in UK workplaces for preventing weight loss amongst workers and contributing to tooth decay.

The UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe – almost one-quarter of British adults have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30, while six-in-ten are overweight.

“The government estimates obesity contributes to the loss of 16m certified incapacity days each year, and this research suggests employers may be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution,” said Mike Blake, director at Willis PMI Group.

“The findings call for businesses to review their existing workplace cultures and practices and, where appropriate, proactively adopt health and wellbeing initiatives.”

Providing stand-up desks has previously been touted as one way that employers can assist staff with weight-loss – but additional research published by The Cochrane Library in 2016 showed that the expensive pieces of office equipment have little impact on calories burned over the course of a working day.

Celebrity chef and food campaigner Jamie Oliver thinks that a proposed “sugar tax” is key to combatting obesity amongst adults and children, and recently pleaded with new prime minister Theresa May to push the legislation through without watering it down.

“Please. What do I have to do Theresa? What do you need from me? I am there. I will do anything,” Oliver said in a Huffington Post video.

Looking for treats that won’t make your employees fat? This business is bringing edible insects to the UK market.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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