Almost a third (31%) of employees believe their employers should help them lose weight, according to research by PMI Health Group.
Its study, which surveyed 582 adults aged 16-64, who are currently in full or part-time employment in Great Britain, found that this figure rose to 41% in Scotland and 38% in London.
The research also found:
- 34% of respondents claim employers have a moral responsibility to help them lead a fit and healthy lifestyle.
- 35% believe employers should run specific schemes that incentivise staff to lose weight.
- Male respondents appear to be slightly more keen on weight loss schemes, with 38% of male and 31% of female respondents calling for their introduction.
The study follows a ruling by the European Court of Justice that severe obesity can constitute a disability as well as calls from the head of the NHS to financially reward employers which introduce weight loss schemes.
Mike Blake, director at PMI Health Group, said: “Obesity is a rapidly growing problem in the UK, that is estimated to cost the economy £47 billion a year.
“Consequently, employers are coming under pressure to share the responsibility for tackling the problem by helping staff to lead healthier lifestyles.
“But, aside from the obvious benefit to employees, a proactive approach is also good for the long-term health of a business, helping to tackle sickness absence before it becomes an issue.
“The cost of diabetes to the NHS, for example, is expected to rise from £9.8 billion to £16.9 billion over the next 25 years.
“Initiatives such as [bikes-for-work] schemes, fitness classes, nutritional advice and weight-loss programmes can be relatively cheap to implement but provide clear economic benefit by reducing the risk of serious conditions developing.”