Study Finds Healthcare Sector among Most Obese

In a seemingly ironic twist of circumstance, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that the healthcare industry is among the top 10 most obese industries.

The data analyzed came from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey as well as self-reported personal statistics from employees. All healthcare workers are included in the overall “healthcare” sector, but a breakdown of health service employees versus practitioners indicates that the former are more at risk for obesity than the latter.

Researchers correlate risk for obesity in the job sectors listed to job factors such as stress, long hours, and working conditions that minimize movement and activity. In that respect, healthcare practitioners such as doctors and nurses benefit from time spent on their feet going between patients.

Long hours and shift work can make it difficult for workers to fit exercise into their schedule or to prepare and eat healthy, balanced meals – after all, a trip through the drive-thru is faster and less labor-intensive, thus more appealing to an employee coming off of (or heading into) a 12-hour shift. Also at issue are differences in pay that can prevent some workers from choosing healthier options.

One possible contributor to obesity in the healthcare setting that is not discussed, but that has interesting implications, is a shift toward banning smoking by healthcare employees. Healthcare employees who quit smoking may compensate by eating more, either to fill the time or because of the lack of cigarettes’ appetite suppressant effect.

Obesity can be a significant contributor to health care costs. With that in mind, understanding the prevalence of obesity in the healthcare industry – as well as its causes – can help healthcare employers adapt their working conditions and employee benefits to promote healthier lifestyles. For example, a hospital may offer free or subsidized memberships to gyms or weight-loss programs, or tie the achievement of health goals to lower premiums.

PRN Funding offers invoice factoring to the healthcare industry, which can improve your cash flow and allow you to invest in your employees’ health. Contact PRN Funding to learn more about your healthcare factoring options and to fill out an application today!

AMA Declares Obesity a Disease – The Impact for Employers

The American Medical Association has voted to reclassify obesity from a condition to a disease “requiring a range of medical interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention,” according to an AMA statement. Essentially, physicians will be professionally obligated to diagnose and treat obesity.

Obesity increases risk factors for many serious conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Nearly 30 percent of US adults are considered obese. Since most forms of insurance don’t cover obesity, the policy could improve access to obesity treatment such as nutritionists and trainers. Insurance may even begin to reimburse the time doctors spend talking to patients about nutrition and exercise. The bill would also increase obesity treatment options for Medicare patients and expand the types of providers allowed to offer obesity counseling.

Not only will the AMA decision impact patient care, it may also impact the staffing and employment industry. As of now, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of weight. Staffing agencies should watch carefully as the ADA deems nearly all diagnosed medical conditions as “disabilities.” Could it mean that employers will have to make reasonable accommodations for employees who fall into the obese category? Could obese employees seek additional protection from discrimination and terminations based on weight? An article on believes so.

According to Forbes magazine, the new classification may even make employers more hesitant to hire obese workers, especially since health insurance coverage is required under the Affordable Care Act. Some employers may also try to lower wages to offset the higher health insurance costs of obesity. It also may impact workplace wellness programs that offer financial incentives tied to weight management and obesity.