Obesity is a divisive issue

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of managers believe that employers have a responsibility to speak to an employee about their health if they feel that their productivity is being affected. Just 36% of managers who themselves are very overweight or obese, however, agree this is the right thing to do.

More than half (57%) of managers also feel that overweight staff are more likely to take time off work. Yet, 87% of managers believe employers are reluctant to bring up weight or obesity problems with staff through fear of hurting an employee’s feelings, according to Nuffield Proactive Health’s Attitudes to obesity in the workplace survey.

The survey also showed that 86% would refrain from mentioning weight issues to employees due to concerns about legal implications.

When it comes to offering advice and support to employees that are overweight, however, 76% of organisations do not plan to offer any help or services to combat obesity. This view was supported by 82% of the highest-ranking managers surveyed.

Weight issues also appear to have an influence on employers’ recruitment decisions.

On average only 49% of managers surveyed said their companies employed significantly overweight or obese employees.