Excess weight has reached epidemic proportions globally, with more than 1 billion adults either overweight or obese. The health implications of being overweight are numerous. Studies show that the risk of death increases by 20% to 40% among overweight people and that being overweight reduces life expectancy by up to nine years (and by three years for those overweight at age 40).

A study was conducted by an oilfield services company with operations in Brazil regarding the negative trend in the progressive increase of body mass index (BMI) among its employees. A random group of 1,000 employees in that country whose certificates of occupational health (known in Brazil as ASOs) had been evaluated over the last three years was analyzed.

The study results show an increase in the number of overweight employees and support the conclusion that more emphasis needs to be placed on the obesity issue by occupational health experts through addressing it during the periodic physical examinations for employees and building employee awareness on the issue.

The study showed that overweight employees develop a higher rate of metabolic syndrome conditions (such as hypertension and diabetes) than individuals in the normal weight range. Obesity results in poor health and reduced quality of life for the individual as well as lost work time. Being even slightly overweight can lead to even more serious health conditions.

On the basis of the findings, the paper discusses the importance of periodic occupational medical check-ups and why they should be conducted for all employees. Occupational health experts can then better evaluate employees and help them prevent the consequences associated with being overweight.

The year-round health and education initiatives that the company has established are also discussed. Implemented to inspire employees to stay in shape through healthy eating habits and exercise, these initiatives help contributing to a healthier and more productive workforce.

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