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Jan 04

Did You Know – Your workplace can play a key role in controlling obesity

According to statistics, one out of five Indians suffer from obesity and India unfortunately is one of the top five obese countries in the world. Thanks to the rapidly changing lifestyle of the Indian population! Shockingly, working class and those living in urban India are more prone to obesity and obesity related chronic diseases.

Lifestyle of the world population is driven by work culture to a great extent. People, especially the young generation tend to spend more time in workplace than at home or outdoor. Those in the corporate sector are at a higher risk of being pushed towards the obesity epidemic in India. Stressful work, sedentary lifestyle, desk job, inadequate/irregular sleep, fatty diet, desktop diet, lack of exercise and consumption of alcohol are some of those lifestyle and behavioural changes that are associated with obesity risk. The corporate world here plays a key role in tackling this serious problem and promote a lifestyle-oriented work culture. Most of them have started realising the importance of the health of their employees and have initiated few healthy habits in their workplace.

WALK into PepsiCo India’s 5-storeyed, sprawling headquarters at Gurgaon in the National Capital Region and you will see baskets of fresh fruit in the corridors and near the elevator that you can help yourself to on your way back from the rest room or when walking into office. But you won’t get no Frito-Lay, the food and beverage maker’s own snacks brand, so easily.

PepsiCo provides free seasonal fruit to employees across its nine offices around the country to keep them away from junk food, as part of efforts to check obesity and other lifestyle diseases among its staff, just like most of India Inc. With health problems such as obesity, depression, fatigue, sleeping disorders and hypertension starting to affect the productivity of employees, a large number of Indian companies are introducing detailed healthcare and wellness programmes to the daily chore of their staff.

They introduced a healthcare plan which includes a scheme, ‘Weight Matters’, to reward employees as they lose flab. Another scheme, ‘Meethi Meethi Baatein’, informs executives about myths and facts related to diabetes, while ‘Dil Maange More!’ is for heart check-ups and workshops.

Physical activity and healthy diet are two key factors which impact our body weight. But, in our fast paced work dominated life, we hardly get time to engage in such healthy acts. Sitting in front of the computer for stretched hours and eating junk food become the way of life. In such a case, corporate should take the initiative of driving employees towards a balanced and healthy life. Health screening, weight management exercise, access to gymnasiums and fitness trainers, open areas, provision of three course healthy meal and yoga sessions are some of the initiatives workplaces should take to save their employees from the risk of developing obesity.

Bharti Airtel, which launched a weight-loss initiative for its employees last year when it began sponsoring the Delhi Half Marathon, will repeat the scheme this year. Employees willing to participate in the marathon were encouraged to lose weight.

Another important role that corporate can play is to organize health programme sessions where every employee will get necessary information on eating behaviours, yoga, meditation etc from experts. This will not only cut on the medical expenses but will also benefit the workplace by lowering the rate of absenteeism arising from illness.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the country’s largest software firm, recently launched a ‘serenity’ initiative to improve the overall health and well-being of employees. Today, every TCS centre in India has a certified counselor to help employees deal with stress. Also, the company is providing free training in life-skill programmes including yoga and meditation.

A better quality of life will make both the employee and the employer productive at work!

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