health & wellness
Wellness Begins at Work
IMPROVING THE HEALTH OF YOUR WORKPLACE
RESULTS IN INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY
According to a report from the
senate committee on social af-fairs,
science and technology,
in the past three to four de-cades,
there has been a drastic increase in
the proportion of overweight and obese
Canadians. Nearly two-thirds of adults
and one-third of children are obese or
overweight. Unfortunately, obesity costs
Canada between $4.6 billion and $7.1
billion annually in health care and lost
productivity; the cost to Canadian em-ployers
is a staggering $1.3 billion per
year, according to an article by Liz Scott
in the Occupational Health Nurses Journal.
Obese employees also spend about 35 per
cent more on health services and 77 per
cent more on medications than people of
FACTORS IN WEIGHT GAIN
There are various reasons why the
Canadian population is gaining weight.
Government research shows that
Canadians are not consuming enough
fruits and vegetables, eating too many re-fined
carbohydrates and not participating
in enough physical activity.
However, there are other critical factors
to weight gain aside from diet and exer-cise
alone. Stress and sleep have long been
speculated to contribute to weight gain
and research is finally beginning to reveal
truth in these claims.
A recent 2017 study shows people
who suffer long-term stress may also
be more prone to obesity. Scientists at
University College London found that
high levels of cortisol, a hormone that
regulates the body’s response to stress,
are correlated to weight. Individuals
with elevated levels of this stress hor-mone
had larger waist circumference
measurements, were heavier and had a
higher body mass index (BMI). Those
classified as obese according to their
BMI (greater than or equal to 30) or
waist circumference (greater than or
equal to 102cm in men, 88cm in wom-en)
had especially high levels of cortisol.
So what’s the cause of the elevated cor-tisol?
Over 25 per cent of Canadians
identify their life to be “very stressful.” Of
these individuals, 60 per cent report work
as their major source of stress. Overly
stressed people have also been shown to
have disrupted sleep patterns, says the
American Psychological Association.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP
A growing body of research is point-ing
to a link between how much people
sleep and how much they weigh. Children
and adults who get too little sleep tend to
weigh more than those who get enough
sleep. When people do not have enough
sleep, several changes can happen, particu-larly
in regards to appetite. A poor night’s
sleep brings with it appetite increases, as
well as cravings for junk foods, in particu-lar.
Additionally, tired individuals may be
too fatigued to exercise.
To truly begin to tackle the obesity
problem, the approach must be multifac-eted.
Employers should be investing in
educating employees on effective stress
management techniques, work-life bal-ance
practices and sleep hygiene. Simple
techniques that can be incorporated into
the workday, such as mindfulness, have
been shown to reduce anxiety and mental
stress. Sleep hygiene is a variety of habits
that are necessary to have good nighttime
sleep quality and full daytime alertness.
Optimizing work-life balance can encour-age
these healthy habits, leading to a more
productive workplace. n
Drs. Andreia Horta and Emily Lipinski are
the founders of Infusion Health in Toronto.
By Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND and Dr. Andreia Horta, ND
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ JUNE 2017 ❚ 33