While I welcome all reports that draw attention to the critical impact that an individual’s health status has on their own wellbeing and the country’s economy (‘Working Lunch, Personnel Today, 17 October), any report that suggests an individual is not personally responsible for their own health may only exacerbate the problem, and feed the generally held perception that health is someone else’s issue.
Clearly, a healthy nation is both an individual and a collective responsibility. However, data from the World Health Organisation proves that lifestyle and personal choices are responsible for more than 50% of the health status of an individual.
The Tackling Obesity: Future Choices report may well be an effective ‘call to arms’ which the medical community can use to urge government intervention, although the deflection of individual responsibility is not helpful. In much the same way that further education is a lifestyle choice, unless individuals start taking responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, employers in the future might take a harder view on obesity.
We know that employers currently use academic qualifications as a measure for assessing intelligence and psychometrics as a measure for emotional intelligence. Given that research proves there is a direct correlation between health and performance, it seems reasonable that employers might begin to think about differentiating current and potential employees based on their modifiable health issues, of which weight is one.
For most people, weight management (which is a function of nutritional and physical activity habits) is a lifestyle choice, just like smoking. By taking responsibility away from the individual, we risk ending up in a situation where third parties will start to dictate what we can and cannot eat or drink. Surely that is not the sign of a healthy country.
Clive Pinder, managing director,Vielife