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Is your workplace making you fat?

In the run up to Christmas, with the prospect of the country putting on extra weight, the LifeWorks division of Ceridian, one of the largest providers of human resource services in the world, has put out some useful advice to workers keen to shed the pounds.

Jeremy Campbell, head of LifeWorks at Ceridian in the UK, observes: "Obesity costs employers billions of pounds every year and inevitably most workers will put on extra weight over the festive season. Although controlling bodyweight ultimately requires employees to take personal responsibility for daily decisions on fitness and nutrition, employers have the power to encourage healthy workplace choices. Here at Ceridian we see topics such as Body Mass Index and healthy eating jump to the top of our most-requested advice list every January. Employers can take advantage of this interest to realise significant weight management improvements among staff by offering advice and guidance alongside things like healthy snack selections, fitness gym discounts and incentives for participating in wellness activities."

Meanwhile, Ceridian’s top ten tips for employees to become ‘weight wise' at work this Christmas are:

  1. Bring healthy snacks from home. This way you won't be at the mercy of the tray of mince pies or box of chocolates brought in by a co-worker.
  2. Plan ahead and pack your lunch. Thinking ahead and taking a healthy salad, sandwich, or thermos of soup to work can fill you up. Plus, it's ready to eat when you are, and costs a lot less than ordering in – so you’ll have more money for buying presents!
  3. Eat when you're hungry. If you get mid-morning hunger pangs, eat a healthy snack. If you wait until lunchtime, when you are starved, you may eat more than you intended and make less healthy eating choices, especially if you’re eating out more than normal in the run up to Christmas.
  4. Find time for a walk. Try to get up out of your chair and get some steps in every day. Add a walk around the building to your lunch-hour routine. Take a "walking meeting" with your colleagues. And, remember to take a walk in the park on Christmas or Boxing Day to help work off any excesses.
  5. Avoid stress snacking. Stress at work is unavoidable, especially with the demands of the holiday break to deal with as well. However, you can control how you respond to it. Instead of grabbing a chocolate bar, do some deep breathing, stretching, or talk to a co-worker who always makes you smile.
  6. Choose low-calorie foods. Diet soft drinks, artificial sweeteners, and low calorie foods can readily substitute for higher calorie snacks. Avoiding just one extra teaspoon of sugar a day can avert almost a 12-pound weight gain over a year, and one normal fizzy drink has the equivalent of about nine teaspoons alone – so choose low calorie versions of your Christmas favourites.
  7. Control your intake.  Research has shown that controlling the amount of calories you eat can be more effective in controlling weight than just exercising alone.  Make sure that you load your Christmas dinner plate with plenty of vegetables and avoid fattening sauces and roast potatoes.
  8. Track your habits.  Keeping a food diary is a great way to see what, when and why you eat.  If you notice lots of work lunches and drinks sneaking in during the festive period, then make sure you compensate by eating smaller meals, such as soups and salads at home.
  9. Watch out for hidden calories. It’s easy to forget that the odd glass of wine or gin and tonic can add a significant increase to your daily intake – especially as many bars now serve large glasses and double measures as standard.
  10. Stay inspired.  What will help you remember to stick to your weight management goals?  It could be a photo on your computer screen, the thought of being in the Christmas family photos, or a clipping of a reward you will give yourself for your success.

In the UK, the direct cost of obesity to the NHS is £0.5 billion while the indirect cost to the UK economy is at least £2 billion. Obesity accounted for 18 million days of sickness absence and 30,000 premature deaths in 1998. On average, each person whose death could be attributed to obesity lost nine years of life. To address this important issue, Ceridian Health & Wellness Services offer a non-diet approach to weight loss and maintenance. The holistic approach addresses the total needs of the participant.

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