As we head into the holiday season, the folks from Gallup aren’t bringing good cheer: 2013 is turning out to be a record year for obesity.
The current U.S. obesity rate is 27.2 percent, up a full point over last year, and is on track to surpass all previous obesity rates since Gallup-Healthways began tracking in 2008. Back then, 25.5 percent of us were obese.
Obesity rates among adults ages 45 to 64 and those who earn between $30,000 and $75,000 annually were up nearly 2 points over last year. Given that stressing and overeating are our national holiday pastimes, the obesity rate isn’t likely to dip before New Year’s Day.
Just 35.3 percent of us are classified as normal weight, according to the new poll, based on a survey of 14,000 adults. Another 35.5 percent are overweight but not obese.
Santa’s girth is becoming the new normal, a development that should concern employers greatly. As Gallup reported earlier this year, obesity and chronic disease lead to absenteeism among a wide variety of occupations.
Among managers and executives, for example, 78.8 percent are either overweight or have at least one chronic condition, costing companies $15.7 million in lost productivity due to missed work. Professionals (excluding physicians, nurses and teachers) cost companies $24.2 million per year in lost productivity due to subpar health. Employees in categories miss about 3.6 extra days of work per year for reasons related to obesity or chronic conditions, according to Gallup-Healthways.
Among folks in transportation, manufacturing, production, installation, or repair, a staggering 82 to 86 percent are either overweight or have at least one chronic condition.
As an employer, you don’t have to sit back and accept obesity and poor health as inevitable among your workforce. Your company can take an active role in improving your employees’ health by offering intensive, one-on-one health coaching and by building a culture of health. [LINK TO THE PAPER I WROTE ON THAT]
At Alere Wellbeing, our Weight Talk and Weight Talk-D programs focus on reducing obesity and preventing diabetes — not with quick fixes but by giving employees the tools to become more active and eat more healthfully for life.
Put 2013 and its record obesity rate behind you. Make 2014 the year you ushered in a leaner, fitter, more robust, and more productive workforce.