The value of a healthy lunch break

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 2.3 billion people who are overweight in the world, with 700 million of these individuals considered to be obese (WHO, 2013).  This is a serious threat to the general populace as being overweight or obese has a complex impact on an individual’s health, with painful and expensive implications for those afflicted.

What can be done to avoid the child obesity epidemic?

In 2015, the World Health Organization announced that noncommunicable diseases such as obesity are largely preventable.  The objective of fighting obesity is to achieve energy balance and many organizations are making large efforts to bring the problem under control rather than creating a cure.

World Health Organization released a variety of recommendations:

  • Increase fruit and vegetables consumption, moreover legumes, whole grains & nuts.
  • Limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated & unsaturated fats.
  • Limit sugar intake.
  • Physical activities at least for 60 minutes daily.
  • Societal recommendations: Fighting childhood obesity requires constant political commitment & the alliance/collaboration of many public and private stakeholders. NGO, government, international partners, plus the private sector have an important role in shaping a healthy environment. (WHO, 2015).

Th Role of the Private Sector:

The Global strategy on diet, physical activity, and health encourage and support the privet food industry and sporting goods to:

  • To promote healthy diets and physical activity for children, under the national guidelines and international standards to reach the aim/goal of the global strategy on diet, physical activity, and health.
  • Decreasing/limiting the level of saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, free sugar and salt content in processed food products, plus the limitation of portion size.
  • Support and increase the introduction of innovative health measures and nutritious choices for children.
  • Educate the children concerning the promotion and marketing of healthy food and its benefits.
  • Provide accurate information to the youth about the danger of unhealthy food and of all the disadvantages and diseases that can accompany it.
  • Develop and implement physical activities and exercise for the children. (WHO, 2015).

The Workplace as a Setting for Obesity Prevention Programs

According to the Surgeon Generals Call to Action to Prevent and Decease Overweight and Obesity, workplaces offer a unique opportunity to promote behavior change and adoption of healthier lifestyles (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2010).

In many ways, workplaces are to adults what schools are to children since most working-age adults spend a substantial portion of their waking hours there.  Nearly a quarter of the lives of working adults are spent at work and many of the associated job-related pressures like long work hours, shift work, time demands, and job stress negatively affect lifestyle and behavior patterns.  This includes eating habits and activity levels, which, in turn, may lead to weight gain and obesity.

Employers, unlike health plans, tend to have long-term relationships with their employees and thus have more reason to improve workers’ health, since these improvements are likely to pay off in the end.  Additionally, the duration of interventions can be longer, thus increasing the likelihood that healthy habits are adopted, and workers accrue benefits from their behavior change.  (Cawley, 2011)

At the workplace, health and productivity goals can be set by management.  Unlike other actors (what word of you mean here?) in the health care marketplace (e.g, hospitals, device manufacturers, insurers, pharmaceutical firms, and doctors), employers have a strong incentive for keeping their workers healthy and fit because doing otherwise is likely to led to increased health care utilization, decrements in on-the-job productivity, more safety incidents, and low morale (Cawley, 2011).

The Relation between Lunch Break and Productivity:

Taking a full lunch can be viewed as a sacrifice of time, but skipping lunch is a mental sacrifice all its own (Luckerson, 2015).

“From a productivity standpoint, there are diminishing marginal returns when you ask your brain to exert constant effort to an eight-hour day,” says Dr. Janet Scarborough Civitelli, a workplace psychologist at VocationVillage.com, “When workers skip a lunch break on a regular basis, they often don’t realize that fatigue and burnout are creeping up on them until they wake up one day and ‘suddenly’ feel less enthusiastic about their jobs or businesses” (CNN, 2015).

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