Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Health Care Workers - The Unhealthiest of Them All?
Models are pin thin. The surgeon general herself is on the plump side. And doctors and health care workers, those individuals who wield the most power when it comes to the health of the nation, demonstrate some of the worst health habits of all.
There are two different factors at play here. First, there is the issue of unhealthy doctors fearing judgment or dismissal by their patients if they urge weight loss when they themselves cannot seem to lose the extra pounds. The second issue is the fact that health care workers disproportionately engage in unhealthy behaviors. Both of these factors present a problem when it comes to the state of the American health care system as a whole.
Many physicians feel hypocritical advising their patients to lose weight or quit smoking when they struggle with tobacco dependency or obesity themselves. Studies show that doctors who are overweight are 12% less likely to discuss weight with their patients in comparison to doctors who fall within the recommended weight range.
Beyond the personal care aspect however, health care workers (nurses, aides, hospital administrators, etc) have some of the highest rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes in the country!
A Reuters study found that the average cost of health care for hospital employees and their dependents was an additional $538 per year than that of the general population. This segment of the workforce was also more likely to be diagnosed and hospitalized for asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure, HIV, hypertension and mental illness.
More than 78 million adults are obese in the US today, but how are Americans going to learn proper health habits if those representing health care fail to adhere to the wellness principles they preach?