13/08/2008 - 22:00

Obesity a workplace concern

13/08/2008 - 22:00

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People with sedentary occupations have a greater propensity to become overweight and obese, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Obesity a workplace concern

People with sedentary occupations have a greater propensity to become overweight and obese, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

But are work patterns and practices driving this trend, or do our sedentary lifestyles play a part?

Obesity has become a workplace issue, according to the AIHW, which questions whether being overweight is inextricably linked to work habits.

And this leads to another question: if obesity is linked to the workplace, does weight have an impact on careers?

Activ Foundation chief executive Tony Vis told WA Business News there appeared to be a link between those who were desk-bound and a lack of exercise overall.

''It certainly doesn't assist being fit," Mr Vis said.

"Your working lifestyle in the office would have an effect on your fitness and weight levels, and if people who have these types of jobs aren't active, then it affects their overall wellbeing and the amount of time they're absent from work."

The AIHW says obesity is costing companies millions because obese people tend to miss work more often, as their condition is considered a trigger for chronic health problems.

However, the institute has urged caution on recent claims that Australia was the 'fattest nation in the world.

AIHW director Penny Allbon said that, although there was little doubt that Australia was in the worst third of developed nations for prevalence of adult obesity, the institute could not cite any reliable statistics that would support the claim Australia was worse than all other countries.

"Having said this, there is no doubt the picture on overweight and obesity in Australia is not a good one," Dr Allbon said.

In the Australia's Health 2008 report, released in June, the institute quotes a National Health Survey estimating that, during a 2004-05, 7.4 million Australian adults were overweight, with more than 30 per cent of those considered to be obese.

The Australian Medical Association says as many as 17,000 Australians die each year from causes attributable to obesity.

Mr Vis said to overcome these alarming figures, people who worked in an office environment needed to engage in outdoor activities.

Through its sponsorship of the upcoming City to Surf fun run in Perth, Mr Vis said Activ was calling on corporate Perth to get out of the boardroom and get fit for the August 31 event.

The not-for-profit organisation, which has owned the City to Surf event since its inception in 1975, expects 35,000 participants this year, with a corporate cup up for grabs.

Naming sponsor of the event, HBF, has also urged the city's workers to get active.

"We're sending out a challenge to everyone sitting behind a computer - get your running shoes on and start getting healthy," HBF managing director Rob Bransby said.

Activ has been providing recreation, respite, accommodation and skills development training to people with disabilities since 1951.

The inaugural City to Surf, which began as a vehicle for fundraising, attracted 500 people.

During the past 33 years, the event has grown to 30,000 participants, netting Activ more than $400,000 in 2007.

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