Obesity and Work

Challenging stigma and discrimination

Bajorek Z, Bevan S |   | Institute for Employment Studies | May 2019

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This IES research looks to enhance workplace practice surrounding obesity - a condition that many believe has reached epidemic proportion and is of global concern.

Rates of overweight and obesity are still rising at an alarming rate. In the UK almost 7 out of 10 men and 6 out of 10 women are affected by the condition. There is still the common perception that obesity is caused simply by an increased calorific intake and decreased physical activity, but research indicates the causes of obesity are multi-factorial and complex, including socio-economic factors.

The effects of obesity extend to working life, with issues related to productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism, as well as the level of discrimination that people with obesity can face at work, the likelihood of being employed with obesity and opportunities for promotion and progression.

Research into both health and wellbeing at work and obesity at work has developed over the last decade, but with a changing and ageing workplace, both topics continue to be relevant for employers and society.