Volume 44 (2002) Issue 6 Pages 373-384
Obesity has been recognized as a global epidemic threatening health and life. Today in Japan, obesity defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2 is found in 2-3% of adults, but one in five men and women is defined as overweight with a BMI greater than 25, and thus the prevention of obesity should be targeted in health promotion services at worksites. Vigorous research is required in workplaces because a few work-related factors, such as socioeconomic status including job and position, job stress, extended work including overtime, shift or night work and sedentary work, have been suggested in the literature to promote weight gain and abdominal fat accumulation. The obesity prevention programs at worksites should not be focused on reducing weight in a few current obese workers, but on maintaining the current weight in the majority of workers to prevent the development of obesity and its consequences. The measurement of waist circumference is indispensable for assessing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in overweight and obese workers, and those at a high risk of CHD should be referred to medical professionals outside the workplace. The education programs at worksites on dieting and exercise for maintaining body weight should be conducted as a part of the whole lifestyle improvement programs on both a population and an individual basis. Considerable knowledge and skills for the education program are required for health care persons at worksites. Otherwise, professional support should be provided to them by some occupational health service agencies.