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Overweight and Obesity as the Major Public Health Challenges Worldwide

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Overweight and obesity have become the major public health challenges worldwide and are now considerably increasing in recent decades. World Health Organisation [WHO] (2017) classifies overweight and obesity by the Body Mass Index (BMI), calculated by taking the weight in kilograms divided by the height in meters squared. The BMI of 25 and more is considered overweight and from 30 upwards is obese. Recent data from WHO has figured out that approximately 13% of the worldwide adult population were obese in 2016 and the world’s obesity rates nearly tripled from 1975 to 2016. These days, the negative effects of obesity are examined on work performance and economic costs (Lehnert et al. 2013, pp. 106).

If work functioning is associated with productivity, obese workers could reduce their performance to meet all work demands because of their physical limitations and health status (Nigatu et al. 2015, p. 128) and consume more time to accomplish physical-required tasks (Kudel, Huang & Ganguly 2018, p. 6). While direct overweight-related costs are determined by healthcare services and medical expenditures, indirect costs of obesity are regarded as productivity loss, including presenteeism, absenteeism, disability and premature mortality. Johns (2010, p.519) refers presenteeism as a condition of health in which workers still work when suffering illness. That means, they could not work at full proficiency, leading to reduce greater productivity than absenteeism, the condition of workers take a sick or injured leave concerned with obesity. Obesity also encompass with short or long term absence of workers, causing disability and suffering loss of workdays in workplace. Then, the organizational disability pensions or early retirement-based costs increase due to obesity. Hence, it is impossible to neglect the negative impacts of obesity on work functioning or productivity.

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As already mentioned, the obese individuals are reckoned with impaired health condition and less productivity, as well as economic burden on organizations. Therefore, the obese has to challenge with the stigmatisation and discrimination in the workshop. In other words, weight bias and negative attitudes towards them on almost sides of recruitment, salary, or promotion. The majority of studies examining discriminatory behaviour against people with obesity have focused primarily on mistreatment in employment settings. Experimental research on employment discrimination has typically involved presenting participants with resumes of job candidates on which researchers manipulate the candidate’s weight by providing written, verbal, or pictorial (photograph or video footage) representations that clearly identify whether the candidate is overweight/obese or not.

This research shows that people with obesity are less likely to be employed, are assigned less desirable tasks, and receive lower salaries than non-fat job candidates and colleagues (O’Brien, Latner, Ebneter & Hunter 2012, p. 455). Instances of wrongful termination, which the obese has to face, are that there are cases typically involve obese employees who were fired because of their weight despite positive performance evaluations and/or despite weight being unrelated to job duties. Given the accumulation of literature documenting weight bias in multiple domains of living, it is critical to determine its impact on emotional and physical health outcomes for overweight and obese individuals. Experiences of weight stigma independently contributed 32.6% of the variance in depression scores. In addition, perceived weight discrimination was significantly associated with a current diagnosis of mood and anxiety disorders, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and perceived stress. Equivalent degrees of stigmatization were reported by women who were currently and formerly overweight, and more frequent stigmatization throughout their lifetime was also correlated with lower self-esteem (Heuer & Puhl 2009).

Obesity affects work that can be correct in some cases, however, it is important to analyse whether obesity is caused by the current job or the prevalence of obesity that precedes recruitment. Obesity is formed by a number of causes, including in the current workplace, some of which create tremendous pressure on employees, work as a causal factor, social stressors, psychosocial work factors, working hours, sleep and night shift work can play important roles in the etiology of obesity, thereby affecting labour productivity, affecting fixed costs, procurement of equipment and tools. Thus, obesity does not merely influence work productivity, but the underlying problem of obesity is a result of occupational exposures. It can be said that obesity is the result of labour, so the business owners should equip suitable working facilities for employees, and should compensate for the damage to workers rather than put the blame on obese workers. Better understanding of relationships between obesity and work may encourage identification of interventions to address both obesity and workplace disease and injury.

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