Why is healthy eating in the workplace important?
Currently in the United States, 72 million adults are overweight or obese. The CDC says obesity is at epidemic proportions and is one of the “most urgent health challenges facing our country today.”
Employers need to take an active role in promoting employee wellness. Healthy employees are more productive. They miss less work, have lower health care costs, experience fewer injuries from accidents, and have better morale. Because of the rapid rate at which obesity has increased, increasing health care related expenses should be a cause for concern for all employers.
- 27% of rising healthcare costs is associated with increased obesity rates, costing companies $45 billion per year.
- An unhealthy employee can cost up to an additional $2,500 annually in medical expenses and absences.
- Obese employees have a higher average rate of absenteeism: approximately 2 more days of missed work yearly.
What can an employer do?
Poor diet and physical inactivity are the two most important factors contributing to the obesity epidemic. Even for people who are not overweight, poor diet can still lead to higher rates of morbidity and mortality.
Change starts with you
Help employees understand “what and how much they eat and drink.”
- Remove unhealthy snacks from vending machines
- Make sure company carry-ins are balanced with fresh fruit and vegetables
- Ensure water is readily on hand at all company events
Remember, on average Americans spend at least one-third of their day at work. They eat, drink and snack in worksite cafeterias, at business meetings, during conferences, and other events. When employers implement strategies to improve the food environment and offer healthier choices, they can influence and improve their employees’ diets, and ultimately, their health.