What Does Waist to Hip Ratio Mean to Worker’s Productivity Levels?

Monday, January 25, 2016

For today’s employers, the rate of overweight and obese workers is a worrying issue because it means unhealthy employees and more absenteeism.  Studies also show that employees with even minor illness, who continue to attend work, work far less efficiently than other workers.

Simple test

The waist to hip ratio is an important way to determine overall health and risk factors for serious disease. Calculating waist-hip ratio is a simple and useful measure of how much unhealthy fat you’re building up around the internal organs inside the abdomen.  You can use an ordinary tape measure to check your waist and hip measurements.

  • Women with a waist-to-hip ratio of more than 0.8 are at increased health risk
  • Men with a waist-to-hip ratio of more than 1.0 are at increased health risk

At these levels you’ll already have excess fat around the organs and membranes and shouldn’t gain any more weight, because excess fat produces the hormones and chemicals that cause serious diseases.

Obesity leads to serious diseases

Doctors now use both Waist-Hip ratio and Body Mass Index (BMI) together to get an accurate measure of excess body fat, because extra fat in any part of the body elevates the risk of serious diseases.  Obesity-related absenteeism costs employers thousands of dollar each year and in the long term, excess weight causes these serious conditions: heart disease – diabetes - liver disease – stroke and cancer.

Obesity is now officially recognised as a disease in itself, but simple ‘lifestyle’ changes are considered to be the best way to deal with this widespread health problem.  And when an individual loses the dangerous extra weight, the increased risk of disease disappears too. 

Employee Health Assessment

A health and ergonomics specialist can provide in-house Employee Health Assessment days, which do simple but important tests.  These tests measure cholesterol levels, levels of fat in the blood (triglycerides), waist-hip ratio, BMI, work-related stress and blood pressure as part of a preventive medicine programme. 

All of this is done in a friendly, professional way which increases morale and shows your workers that their continued health and wellbeing is important to their employers. Then a programme of healthy living advice can be implemented by the ergonomics team which will benefit all of your employees and help them to get fit and stay at a healthy weight. 

Exercise and healthy eating

Fully qualified professionals from the ergonomics will encourage personnel to increase physical activity of any type and help them with sensible, effective ideas like forming their own ‘social’ walking groups.  In addition, encouraging sports, cycling and swimming and finding out what exercise individuals/groups of employees would really enjoy doing greatly helps motivate staff to improve their health. 

We all know in a general sort of way that we should be eating a healthier diet, but not everyone really knows how to plan and cook healthy food every day.  Education on planning a healthy diet is popular because people genuinely want to know this information and maintain a healthy weight. These sessions make employees feel highly valued by their employer and significantly improve their job performance and productivity.  

Advice on reducing alcohol

Many people simply don’t realise how many calories they are getting from the alcohol they drink or realise that alcohol causes the liver to swell and malfunction.  An ergonomics health day is the perfect opportunity to educate personnel and explain that a beer-gut isn’t just made of fat - it’s a sign that the liver is swollen.

Furthermore, an ergonomics consultant can provide pre-employment health checks which will ensure that you only employ fit and healthy workers.  In conjunction with the resolution of any causes of work-related stress that are encouraging workers to eat and drink more than is healthy, ergonomics can transform the whole working environment to provide optimum working conditions.

Managing workforce health for maximum productivity

The whole focus of ergonomics is maximising productivity through employer-led health initiatives and optimised work conditions including efficient office design, well-organised work flow, good management techniques and comfortable work stations.  It’s a globally recognised practical science that emerged from decades of rigorous military research into promoting efficiency that was later developed and refined by the designers of spacecraft. As applied to the workplace the goal in increasing productivity through the following:

  • Low absenteeism from preventable ill-health
  • Low injury rate through worker’s safety training
  • High job satisfaction from healthy, safe working conditions
  • High staff retention
  • Maximum productivity

A full ergonomics overhaul of every aspect of a business operation is now being acknowledged as the most cost-effective way to increase productivity - with a return of at least double the initial investment - new travels fast. 

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