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Obesity in the workplace and what employers can do about it?

handling obesity at workplace

Obesity in India has reached epidemic proportions in the 21st century, with morbid obesity affecting 5% of the country's population. Data released by the World Obesity Federation, a community of organizations dedicated to solving the problem of obesity, shows that effectively 5% of the country’s population would be obese by 2025 from 3.7% in 2014.

It is estimated that there would be 48.3 million obese Indians by 2025.

In the past 10 years, the number of obese people has doubled in the country, according to the National Family Health Survey.

  • India beats USA to have 2nd highest no. of obese children.
  • 1 in 5 adults are overweight in India.
  • Urban population is more prone to obesity as compared to the rural population.
  • Middle class is at higher risk of obesity.

The cost of obesity

According to the Journal of Health Economics,

  • Obesity-related spends make up nearly 20% of all medical costs per year.
  • Obese individuals spend 42% more on healthcare costs.
  • In the study including 341 employees, researchers found that obese workers experienced the greatest health-related limitations while at work, resulting in 4.2% loss in productivity and ~40,000 Rupees loss to the company annually per obese employee.
  • According to statistics from Duke University, work-related injuries of obese employees are 25% higher, and compensation claims are filed twice as much. The cost of those medical claims is also seven times higher than employees with a healthy weight. Obese employees are also more likely to be absent, averaging ten times more days’ off for a work injury or illness.


Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of lifelong well-being, but it can be challenging to find the right balance and navigate all of the myths and false promises out there about diet and weight loss. Being either underweight or overweight carries certain health risks, but they are just a part of the overall equation, which also must include activity level, nutrition, lifestyle and other health conditions. Having access to a holistic corporate wellness program that accounts for different health conditions and lifestyles can be beneficial!

Dieting & weight management

For many, following a diet can help them lose weight and maintain a healthy weight over time. Not all diets are equal, however, and many fad diets or extreme calorie restriction plans can actually have a negative impact on your health and lead to more weight gain in the future. The National Institute of Health recommends modifying your habits or choosing diets that promote:

  • Making healthy food choices, like eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eating smaller portions by adhering to serving sizes for your meals.
  • Adding activity to your daily life and getting between 150 – 300 minutes of activity each week.

Many diet plans will build these healthy habits into your plan, and it’s important to choose a plan that takes a life-long perspective on weight management and overall health.

Reducing obesity with a health coach

Obesity is a chronic condition and there is no ‘quick fix’ solution. This emphasizes the importance of a lifetime commitment to healthy eating and exercise practices. Lifestyle modification, with a reduction of energy intake and an increase in physical activity, is essential in the strategy. An individualized approach to weight management is essential because everyone is different in genetic make-up, lifestyle, behavior and physical activity.

ekincare's Health Coach program helps you achieve your weight goals with guidance from expert nutritionists, doctors and fitness experts. The program pays attention to physical, mental as well as psychological aspects of maintaining a healthy body weight. Diet and exercise plans are individualized and created keeping in mind the needs of an individual.

Taking care of employee weight and obesity through a health coach can save:

  • Approximately 50,000 Rupees per employee per year.
  • Saves 3-4 man-days in absenteeism.
  • Gives 5% more probability of retention and 4% more satisfaction ratings because of providing health benefits to employees.


Dr Noel Coutinho is the current CBO & Co-Founder at ekincare. With 23+ years of experience in insurance, he has served at RGA, Metis & United Healthcare.