A healthy lifestyle outside of the workplace contributes significantly to on site productivity, and the amount of sick leave that is taken each year by employees. Over 10,500 workers were quizzed about their lifestyles, including weight and height, underlying health, work demands and ability to work between 2005 and 2009 over a range of 49 separate companies. Researchers from The Netherlands reported findings online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which is one of more than 30 specialist titles published by BMJ Group.
Employees were asked a variety of work and lifestyle related questions including ranking from 0 to 10 just how productive they had been during the previous day at work and how many sick days they had taken in the previous year.
Workers that scored their day below a level 10, amounted to 44% of all asked to respond. A large portion, 56%, took at least one day off work due to health reasons in the past year. Weight proved to be an important factor in overall performance. Eighty three percent of clinically obese workers displayed at least one significant underlying health problem while 75% reported similar problems while just being "overweight," and 69% reported that were of normal healthy weight.
The prevalence of underlying ill health ranged from 3% for hereditary disease to 77% for musculoskeletal disorders. But weight was an important factor.
More than eight out of 10 (83%) obese workers had at least one underlying health problem, compared with three quarters of those who were overweight and just over two thirds (69%) of those of normal weight. Workers who were obese were 66% more likely to be off sick for 10 to 24 days and 55% more likely to be off sick for 25 days or more than workers of normal weight.
The report summarizes:
More than 10% of sick leave and the higher levels of productivity loss at work may be attributed to lifestyle behaviors and obesity. Primary interventions on lifestyle may contribute to maintaining a productive workforce.
Diet, smoking habits, alcohol consumption also were key factors in work performance. Related to dietary intake, fruit and vegetables ingested below the recommended levels accounted for almost 4% of reduced productivity. Not exercising enough and low levels of exercise and smoking accounted for just under 11% of sick leave.
Smokers were 30% more likely to take 10 to 24 days off due to ill health and 20% lower productivity on the job. Surprisingly, drinking 10 or more glasses of alcohol a week reduced the likelihood of sick leave.
"The role of obesity and lifestyle behaviours in a productive workforce"
Suzan J W Robroek1, Tilja I J van den Berg, Jan F Plat, Alex Burdorf
Occup Environ Med doi:10.1136/oem.2010.055962
Written by Sy Kraft (B.A.)