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Worker wellness programs shouldn’t focus on weight loss, researchers say

Photo: Nuthawut Somsuk/iStockphoto

Baton Rouge, LA — Employers should shift the emphasis of their wellness programs away from weight issues and more toward emotional/psychological health, researchers assert in a recently published paper.

Lead author Michael Johnson, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, and co-authors Marshall Schminke from the University of Central Florida and David De Cremer from the National University of Singapore replicated studies for their paper. The studies included “several samples” from southeastern Louisiana and northern Europe, as well as a nationally representative sample from the United States, an LSU press release states.

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that “how fat someone feels is a better predictor of job performance than how overweight someone is.” Johnson suggests employers place less emphasis on losing weight, which he contends is virtually impossible long-term, and focus on pursuing a psychologically healthy lifestyle.

“This outcome aligns with medical research surrounding the Health at Every Size Movement, which states that people dealing with weight issues should focus more on emotional and psychological health to experience better health outcomes,” the release states.

Johnson said programs “that enable employees to develop a psychologically healthy outlook could improve health and work outcomes, creating better-performing employees.”

The paper was published online in the journal Personnel Psychology.

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