Let’s face it, obesity is becoming a major problem in today’s society.Take a look around. How many overweight people do you see? It’s an issue.
This isn’t a post to shame overweight people either. It’s aimed to help everyone realise the issue and as a society we need to tackle it.
No more political correctness and let’s genuinely address these issues directly.
The biggest part of fixing a problem is to first accept and then tackle it at the source.
By 2050 stats show that over 50% of the UK population will be obese.
How crazy is that!
What’s the cause of this rapid size in weight gain and health problems?
Some may say people are becoming lazier. Some may say people don’t care as much anymore and it’s socially acceptable to be overweight.
But I say there are many factors, but stress and work is a huge part of the equation.
The government can blame sugar, they can blame fat and companies can yo-yo back and forth with low carb then low fat meals. None of this makes a difference.
To tackle the issue we need to understand the habits of people at work which accounts for the majority of someone's week.
Note: Ultimately it’s down to the individual whether or not they will lose weight or not. My point is instead of simply blaming someone for not having the will power, we can try and help at the place that’s it’s needed the most (at work where you spend most of your time).
More people now work at an office than ever before.
Your day can be broken down to the following:
Seated at work = 8 hours
Commuting to and from work (seated usually) = 1 hour
Watching TV after work = 4 hours (UK Average)
Sleeping = 8 hours
Total hours being sedentary = 20+ hours
Caveman John certainly didn’t spend 80% of his time sitting down doing nothing. We were not built to sit down for the majority of our lives.
How do we combat this? We need to take personal responsibility first and foremost. Your body is the reflection of your standards, period. But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help. Not everyone is as strong minded as others. Some people can do 1 hours of weights, 1 hour of cardio, read a book, save a life, adopt a stray cat and still have time to meal prep for the next day.
The majority? No Chance.
First, let’s actually accept that everyone doesn’t have the same mindset as the top 1% (which we see posted over social media and the media daily).
Let’s accept we do need to help people and this does start with education, an open mind and a lot of work.
After looking into hours of research on office health for employees I’ve landed on 3 major things that employers and employees need to do to help stop this rise in obesity (and at the same time prove the performance of their workforce).
If 25% of companies across the UK can push these really hard, we can see a significant fall in health problems in the UK which will reduce NHS spend and improve the wellbeing of the nation.
We can’t help everyone, but we should aim to try.
Get Your Employees Moving
A recent study shows that exercising for 1 hour a day can cancel out the 8 hours of being sedentary.
The issue is most people can’t seem to find the time or willpower to get that hour of exercise in per day.
Let’s admit it. A high stress job with little to no sleep under your belt doesn’t result in the best environment for you to want to hit a big gym session before or after work.
We have all bailed on the gym on days like these but the main factor is building momentum.
Once we start momentum going it can be a near unstoppable force in achieving your goals.
I strongly recommend this starts at the office environment. This momentum will build into their life outside of work and result in a happier, healthier and more productivity employee.
To drill the point across about momentum and like the sicko I am, I’m going to unleash some Physics A level on you. Let’s just go with it.
Say hello to the solar sail. A solar sail is powered by sunlight only. Sunlight is made of packets of energy called “photons”.
Photons are so small they don’t actually have mass but they do have energy and momentum. Billions of these packets of photons hit the solar sail (which is extremely thin) and bounce back. The bounce pushes the solar sail forward and little by little the sail picks up momentum from the transfer of energy from the packets of photons to the sail. The momentum slowly builds and the solar sail can travel up to speeds of 18,600 miles per hour.
That’s 20x faster than the speed of sound. All from extremely small packets of energy, aka small actions. We can use this example in regards to health and fitness. Start small and build momentum.
Many companies across the US offer lunch hour sport sessions by having table tennis tables available, outdoor tracks, fitness classes, sports teams and more.
Employee wellness programs which are now more available here in the UK, incorporate these features into a company's culture helping employee start their journey and pick up momentum.
Another factor that many people don’t realise is critical is the compound effect.
Yep, that’s right. Time to drill it in even more with some shit about the compound effect. Whether you like it or not, the compound effect is either working for you or against you. Unfortunately it works against most people as they don’t realise how it impacts them.
That 1 small chocolate bar daily? That decision to NOT move and exercise for a hour today? That decision to NOT eat a healthy meal? That decision to NOT take the stairs. Missing rugby training each week? They have consequences.
I’ve shown how two people working with the compound effect below end up.
Both men are the same age, height and weight. One realising one small movement a day, eating slightly less calories per day than required to maintain weight and making minor but healthy decisions daily vs somebody who eats snacks at his desk, doesn’t exercise, works overtime every day and disregards these actions. Now, I know what you’re saying: “Scott, that graph above and the solar sail is making my nipples all hard, but what does this actually mean to me?”
After 3 months the difference in both men is tiny, barely noticeable (just 3lbs difference in both). Fast forward to the 1 year mark, both men have gained or lost 12 lbs. This now starts to show in both men but still not a massive difference.
By the end of the year 2 mark, the difference is staggering. A 48 lbs difference which is roughly 3 and a half stone. This only shows the physical impact of the compound effect. This can be replicated across all aspects of life.
So what does this all mean in a nutshell?
Make a conscious effort to exercise, eat healthy and decline junk food daily. It adds up and it creeps up slowly on you.
2. Cake Culture Needs To Stop
Companies across the UK seem to like to reward their employees by either A) alcohol or B) cakes and sweets.
Hit those targets? Boom get fat and drunk!
Look I enjoy a cake more than anyone and a good beer at that but dear God let’s not make it a daily thing people. Let’s be a little creative with rewarding employees. I too was inspired by Bruce Bogtrotter in my youth but we can’t live like that forever.
The man himself.
Back to my point...
It’s far better to enjoy these things in moderation than indulge daily or multiple times a week. Working at a large insurance firm for 8 months opened my eyes to this.
Nobody bats an eyelid when the office floor is scoffing on cupcakes, sweets and sugary drinks but as soon as I pulled out my tupperware containing a healthy meal the office couldn’t believe it.
Questions getting fired from all angles such as:
“Is that even healthy?”
“You can’t digest that much protein per meal - it just stores as fat”
“How can you eat that? I like my food too much.”
“Why are you eating that?”
Not saying this to come across like I’m on some kind of high horse but the office cake culture is very intimidating.
Luckily I didn’t care what others thought of my healthy, albeit ugly, looking meals in a box but I can see how most people simply find it easier to join the crowd and eat the cakes with no fuss.
It’s up to management and above to tackle this culture head on.
Let’s tackle some issues:
Stop rewarding staff with cakes and booze
Stop promoting unhealthy eating
Offer healthy snacks as alternatives to sweets and crisps
Put up signs across the office to remind employees of the compound effect
Have fresh water coolers/taps available for hydration
Offer a healthy eating service that’s affordable and tasty. (This isn’t as hard as you may think).
3. Play games and sports
I know what you’re thinking. Work is for work, not for play!
We need to make money Scott!
Sales are down, marketing budget is gone and our competition is gaining on us, we got no time for games!
Hear me out.
Playing games has a HUGE positive impact on office health and culture.
(It didn’t do much for my health in my youth. Playing Gears of War for 12 hours straight whilst drinking 12 cans of coke and scoffing full pack of sausage rolls with my best mate didn’t do much for me apart from make me a master at the head shot.)
Gaming in moderation has seen a surge in positive studies over the last 5-6 years.
Let’s look at what the studies say:
Research shows people who play sports or games together form closer and better relationships. This can only be a positive for any company.
2) Want to help de-stress your workforce? Get them playing games. Research strongly shows playing games and sports is one of the best ways to release stress.
3) A study conducted on training surgeons showed that surgeons who played video games regularly made 47% fewer errors, performed 39% faster and scored 41% better overall than training surgeons who did not play video games. Maybe it’s time to add a games console to the office.
4) Increases positive vibes. May sound a bit empty but it has a real impact. Employee satisfaction plays a huge role in productivity and sick days. It;s estimated 550 million work hours are lost each year due to sick days. Make your office more fun with games and sports and you’ll see a lot less of these. Stimulate positive office memories for long term positive results.
That’s to name but a few studies and facts.
Look, the chances are you probably won’t be taking any of this advice.
Most companies and employees don’t, until it’s too late. Save yourself money, time and hassle by giving this advice a go. We are facing a huge problem in society and it won’t be going anywhere soon.
Employers need to take responsibility and try and incorporate corporate wellness programs, but ultimately there is only so much they can do, you as the individual need to take full responsibility.
Stop the blame game.