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Are Workplace Weight-Loss Competitions, Healthy?
Would you consider a workplace weight-loss competition a healthy
Many of the HR directors that I speak to come to me on a regular basis for ideas on
how they can integrate a Corporate fitness or well-being strategy, improve employee
engagement, social responsibility and addressing lifestyle solutions that affect our
people. Through the research that I have made what is particularly interesting is that
some organisations run weight-loss competitions.
There are a number of Pro’s and Con’s that I have established through my research.
Firstly the facts, in the UK by 2020 one of the biggest causes of death will be mental
disorders such as depression and epilepsy, 8 in 10 men and 7 in women will be obese
and shockingly over 5 million people will suffer from diabetes (World Health
Organisation). So yes, it’s certainly a great way to encourage our people to lose
weight and reap the health benefits in addressing these problems. A weight loss
competition can certainly be fun, motivating and may even encourage more team
But what if you’re not overweight? What if you have not addressed some the
challenges that prevent people from achieving their health and fitness goals, such as
lack of time, injury or not knowing where to start?
Now the con’s, firstly many organisations jump to the conclusion and automatically
assume what our employees want, yes some may want to participate but others may
not. Weight-loss competitions is a short-term solution for a long-term problem it
doesn’t encourage healthy habits and permanent lifestyle solutions. Weight-loss
competitions also do not address other key problems such as stress management, our
sub-conscious thinking and our own personal aspirations. They can damage self-
esteem through our own high expectations that can create irrational thought and
So what’s the solution?
One word ‘Research’! Qualitative research can be used through a surveys or
questionnaires in understanding what your people want from a corporate fitness or
wellbeing programs. By getting them to participate in the research, if a strategy is
carried out it is likely you will have a bigger uptake in whatever initiative you decided
what is best. Understanding our people’s mindset is absolutely paramount in any type
of initiative. All of us have choices and if our employees feel they given that choice
rather than being forced that has to be a win-win situation. I use a survey to help
understand what schemes have been most effective in the past, if they ideal program
was to be created what would it look like, how would it be delivered and the
objectives of a program.
As for quantitative research, how are you going to measure the effectiveness of a
program? Is there a strong correlation between a corporate fitness strategy and
company profits? But surely regardless your people’s health should be priceless. I
also believe that it all starts with the decision makers, a corporate fitness/lifestyle
strategy is so much more, it is leadership, culture change and educational. It is about
forming permanent healthy habits and lifestyle solutions.
We all have to take responsibility for our own health and stop living in world of
denial. Some of the clients that I deal have taken their health for granted and are then
hit with the bad news that could have detrimental long term consequences, which
becomes a wake up call.
What corporate lifestyle solutions/ wellbeing initiatives do you have in place?
What works for your organisation? Do weight-loss competitions work? It would
great to have your input. I hope you have enjoyed reading this weeks article, feel
free to comment and share.
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Adam Strong is a
Trainer, Athlete and
International Author of
his groundbreaking new
book called ‘Move It or
Lose it’ available
Waterstone’s and Barnes
& Noble. His book is
written for corporate
executives that want to
address their hectic
lifestyles that often lead
to burnout, unhealthy
behaviour habits and poor performance.
His company Xclusive Corporate Fitness specializes in working with executives and
companies in achieving peak performance in the corporate world. He has created a
methodology that uses techniques in stress management, fitness, mindset and
nutrition to enhance physical and mental well being.
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Adam Strong +44 (0) 7738-276169