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Healthy eating is serious business

“Improving the health and vitality of our people is an essential requirement of driving a sustainable and successful business. The Vitality in Action programme has already made fantastic progress in improving the wellbeing of our employees, and their families, across our UK sites. This is something I’m proud to be part of and I am committed to driving the next phase of the programme to all our people in UK and Ireland.”

Dave Lewis, UK Chairman, Unilever UK

How healthy eating builds your business

Healthy eating is vital to ensuring the health of your employees as well as your business.

Food is essential for maintaining the health, energy and productivity of your employees. Poor diet is associated with increased risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, many cancers, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and compromised oral health. Eating more calories than the body needs leads directly to weight gain.

According to government figures, premature deaths among obese employees cost companies £. billion a year and a further £.45 billion due largely to 8 million days of sickness leave. Cardiovascular diseases cost £8.4 billion in lost productivity.

The UN’s International Labour Office has estimated that poor diet – either due to malnutrition in developing countries or excess weight and obesity afflicting mostly industrialised economies

  • -

    is costing countries around 20%

in productivity.

Within Europe, the UK has the fastest-growing obesity problem, with three-quarters of the adult population overweight. Nearly a quarter of adults are classified as obese.

“People who eat unhealthily are more likely to be overweight, suffer from back problems, and be prone to diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which will impact on the sickness absence rate”.

Dr. Ralph Abraham, Clinical Director, London Medical

As with over-eating, failure to eat can also adversely affect business productivity. A 2008 survey of office workers conducted by Ipsos Mori for independent food service provider BaxterStorey found that the estimated cost to the nation (England, Scotland and Wales) per year of skipping breakfast alone is £8. billion or 46.5 million working days. Research has found that eating breakfast aids short term memory and information processing capacity as well as being associated with reduced susceptibility to illness. Those who skip breakfast are unlikely to make up missed nutrients the rest of the day and may find it more difficult

“Healthy eating at Cadbury is about encouraging our employees to make sensible food choices, which in turn will help maintain energy levels throughout the working day as well as contribute to overall health. It’s also about enjoying food and in our staff restaurants we aim to supply a varied selection of foods which are well presented and served in a relaxed and welcoming environment.”

Diane Tomlinson, Head of Organisation Effectiveness – Britain and Ireland, Cadbury

to control their weight. When other poor eating habits such as having no breakfast and lunch or having no breakfast and snacks, are included, lost productivity rockets to £6.85 billion or almost 97 million working days.

“People have been proven to be more productive after a good breakfast, yet this is the meal that people skimp on or miss out altogethe . A scheme like this need not be expensive and it [is likely to] improve productivity. I believe that employers have a real role to play in instigating a healthier eating culture.”

Dr. Frankie Phillips, Workwise Campaign Coordinator, British Dietetic Association


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