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Hra 330 - Obesity in the Workplace: Human Resource Goals

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Obesity in the Workplace: Human Resource Goals

Carol Cook


June 18, 2012

Obesity in the Workplace: Human Resource Goals

You can lose 12 inches in less than thirty days! A person can't help but notice all the Nutri-System and Weight Watcher commercials on television, or the late night infomercials for that DVD that help a person look like a bodybuilder by exercising in the comfort of their own home. Obesity has become a hot topic in today's society. Even Michelle Obama has joined in, fighting for healthier options for our children in their local school cafeterias. No one argues that obesity has become an epidemic. The costs to companies are adding up as a result of higher absenteeism among obese employees, as well as their higher medical costs. Moral can suffer as "regular" sized employees harass the larger about their appearance. It is important for human resource individuals to help identify what obesity really is, the cost to both employees and the organization, and to help find lasting solutions to aid their employees for what, for a large number of them, may be a lifelong battle.

What makes obesity different than simply being overweight? There appears to no actual consensus. BMI calculations are used by most. (Jitendra, Courtney, Kathryn, & Bharat, 2011). Body fat measurments and height weight tables remain the standard for the military, although these methods have been long discarded by others. Perhaps the biggest indicator of whether a person is obese is whether or not the added weight has begun to cause health problems (Jitendra, Courtney, Kathryn, & Bharat, 2011).

The cost to both organizations and employees caused by obesity are generally related to the other health problems it causes. These problems can begin as simply as knee pain from the added stress of the weight on the joint. Allowed to continue, obesity can add to a person's risk of cancer, strokes, heart disease, and Type II diabetes. Studies performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that obesity related health care costs organizations more than seventy five billion dollars annually (Watkins, Lartey, Golla, & Khubhandani, 2008).

In his editorial "Obesity and the Workplace", Jonathon Borak points out that this is not the only cost. Reduced productivity and increased absenteeism are a real problem among obese employees (2011). Ridicule is a real problem for obese employees. This can, in turn, cause low self esteem and affect motivation levels (Jitendra, Courtney, Kathryn, & Bharat, 2011). When this causes decreased output, the pressure and ridicule increase and the whole issue becomes a vicious circle.

So as human



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