Now for the Scots, the Office may Hold Their Slimming Secret

by Tanya Thomas on Oct 14 2008 10:45 AM

The Scottish government is determined to rid its state of its one great evil- obesity, and is making no compromises on that front. To tackle this weighty issue, the government’s health experts have issued guidelines such as shifting photocopiers, water coolers and other office equipment further away from workers’ desks in order to get them to walk more!

Issued by NHS Health Scotland, the guidance also suggests that businesses organize health checks for employees and help them set personal goals on how far they walk or cycle to work each day.

Dr Andrew Tannahill, head of evidence for action at NHS Health Scotland, said the objective of the guidance is to urge workers to move around during office hours rather than ’sitting on the spot’.

"This is aimed at helping employers and staff to make the most of workplace activities," the Scotsman quoted Tannahill, as saying.

"Health checks at work would give people the opportunity to discuss a range of health issues and think about how their lifestyle rates in health terms," he added.

He said that the guidelines are not based on any specific research involving office workers, but on the principle that moving around burns more calories than sitting down.

However, business leaders have cast a doubt on the move and described some of the measures as ’annoying’.

Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said: "Whilst employers have a duty to ensure a safe and healthy working environment and positive human relations support in the workplace, the workplace needs to be set up in a manner which focuses on productivity and efficient work practices, not an exercise zone."

A spokesman for the Forum of Private Business said: "The health of employees is always a concern for businesses.

"But both employers and employees’ concerns at the moment will centre on the current economic downturn and on pulling together to help businesses survive.

"Moving the water cooler and printers away from desks is just annoying. There are greater concerns."