Conoco Phillips in Cork was one of 63 Irish companies employing 40,000 employees to be applauded for their efforts to promote heart-healthy eating and reduce the risk of obesity for workers at the Irish Heart Foundation’s Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards 2010.
As the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke, the Irish Heart Foundation stressed the importance of the workplace as a key setting to tackle the rising problem of obesity in Ireland. Six years on since a report was launched by the National Task Force on Obesity (NTFO), the problem of overweight and obesity continues to rise in Ireland from 57% in 2003 to 63% of adults (Slán 2007).
Michael O’Shea, Chief Executive, Irish Heart Foundation said: “An estimated 2,000 premature deaths are caused by obesity annually in Ireland at a cost of €4 billion and this figure is growing. Already serious health problems face us as a nation which can be attributed to obesity including hypertension, diabetes, angina, heart attack, stroke and osteoarthritis. If obesity levels continue to rise, we are in danger of seeing a levelling off or reversal in the falling rates of heart disease and stroke previously achieved through prevention and advances in treatment.”
Mr O’Shea added: “Healthy eating must play a vital role if we are to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in our population. About two million people are employed in Ireland and the workplace is a key setting in which we can work together to help tackle the problem. And all those receiving our Healthy Eating Awards, representing all sectors, are contributing greatly to that effort.”
The Healthy Eating Awards, which are supported by the HSE, accredit workplaces that provide and promote healthy eating options in their staff restaurants, as recommended by the Irish Heart Foundation and the Department of Health and Children. More than 300 companies nationwide have been certified to date.
According to the Foundation, Irish businesses are more and more aware of the benefits of a healthier workforce in terms of reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and improved employee morale. By taking a proactive approach to healthy eating, companies can play a vital role in the fight against obesity and the health welfare of their staff.