Obesity is a growing concern in Canada and due to the increased time spent in one’s place of employment, there is an augmented importance placed on healthy living in the workplace. In 2004, approximately 6.8 million Canadian adults between the ages of 20 and 64 were overweight, and an additional 4.5 million were obese as recorded by the Canadian Policy Research Networks (Pierre, N., Pollack, N., & Fafard, P. 2007), further emphasizing the need to reduce obesity rates and to improve overall health. This demographic represents primarily the working population, which is the target population in respect to promoting active living in the workplace. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the “impact of the obesity epidemic on non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer threatens to overwhelm health systems; the need for prevention and control is clear” (ECOSOC/UNESCWA/WHO, 2009)
There are a substantial number of policies in place in hopes to reduce obesity rates as well as encourage active living. However, there seems to be a large gap between why the policies are implemented in hopes to achieve a set outcome, and the knowledge of appropriate and effective steps to go about producing the desired change. Additionally, while there are policies in place with the intent of reducing obesity rates, there are few to none that with the intent of promoting active living within the workplace.
While the strain on the health care system is evidently a major issue, poor health of employees also has been proven to negatively affect the overall performance in the workplace. Alternatively, good health in the workplace has been proven to reduce absenteeism, reduce the costs of disability and drugs, reduce the effects of a stressful workplace, and improve morale by creating a happy and more supportive environment all of which directly benefit the employer. For the employees’ benefit, workplace wellness encourages increased awareness and knowledge of ways to improve their health, a less stressful workplace, increased protection from injury, greater morale and job satisfaction, increased productivity and effectiveness at work as well as reduced personal health care costs.
The Healthy Eating and Active Living Policy, ACTIVE2010, Health Policy in Canada, and Health Policies and Trends for Selected Target Groups in Canada each discuss the Obesity epidemic in Canada and Ontario and related concerning statistics. The associated health risks of obesity, the associated costs to the health care system as a result of the increase of obesity induced disease, as well as strategic approaches to halt growing obesity rates. However, working adults spending “more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else-and with many youth holding at least part time jobs,” (Health Commission, 2013) it is absolutely necessary that we place focus on implementing policies promoting active living in the workplace. While Ontario’s...