Poll: Work and poor diet making Taiwan’s workers overweight

​A recent poll from the Ministry of Health and Welfare shows that many white-collar workers are overweight

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(Photo courtesy of Pixabay user, mohamed_hassan)

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay user, mohamed_hassan)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In a recent poll conducted by Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), it was found that nearly 40 percent of the local white-collar work population is overweight, or even obese, as a result of their work and poor diet behaviors.

The MOHW surveyed 6,023 employees via telephone, who were over the age of 18 and who had full-time employment in an office environment for the "2017 Investigation on Health Promotion Status of the Working Population."

The results showed that 39.2 percent of the employees were overweight. Of the overweight working population, 24.7 percent were reported a body-mass index (BMI) between 24 and 27 and another 14.5 percent were obese (BMI ≥ 27).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy BMI level is in the range of 18.5 to 24.9. BMI refers to the index for weight-to-height correlations that are commonly used to classify adults as underweight, overweight, and obese.

The poll also discovered that 83 percent of office workers do not consume enough fruits and vegetables daily as recommended by Taiwan's Health Promotion Administration's (HPA). In the survey, 53.4 percent of respondents also fail to meet the diet recommendations by WHO. The HPA daily recommended consumption is two-three fruits and 300g of vegetables.

In addition, 19.1 percent of workers were found to completely lack any exercise routine and suffer from chronic diseases as a result. Adults should exercise at least 150 minutes a week.

Serious long-term health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar can result from poor diet and lack of exercise. In addition, overweight people are susceptible to chronic cardiovascular heart diseases, blood clots, stroke, aneurysms, and cancer.

Lin Li-ju (林莉茹), HPA Community Health Division head, pointed out that workers who eat more fried and stir-fried foods and high-sugar desserts, consume drinks with excessive calories, and who are physically inactive, are more likely to become overweight.

The survey also showed that more than 60.8 percent of office workers expressed some form of physical discomfort within the past month. The main symptoms include bone and muscle aches (35.2 percent), dry eyes (33.7 percent), and fatigue or weakness (28.3 percent).

Wang Ying-wei (王英偉), HPA’s Director General, said that most workers spend at least one-third of each day in the workplace and the workplace can prove advantageous in promoting employees' health behavior and in developing a healthy lifestyle if companies take a mind to choose healthier food options and encourage regular exercise.

Lin added that in addition to improving the productivity of employees and reducing their turnover rate, international research shows that a healthy diet and lifestyle can also reduce sick leave, and overall medical expenses.