Tackling obesity in the workplace
Davey Hughes, co-founder of iconic outdoor clothing company Swazi Apparel, is challenging business leaders to play their part in helping combat rising levels of obesity.
Davey Hughes, co-founder of iconic outdoor clothing company Swazi Apparel, has issued a challenge to company leaders to play their part in helping combat rising levels of obesity in New Zealand’s population.
Hughes, who was speaking at the recent World Outdoors Summit in Rotorua, said health problems stemming from obesity and low levels of fitness continue to have a negative impact on New Zealand’s workplace productivity.
He urged senior managers to take responsibility for pushing for better health and less obesity. “We can’t just wait for the government to pull people towards doing this.”
Hughes, who shifted into a marketing role at his Levin-based company earlier this year, said every business needs to get involved in decreasing obesity and improving health.
He said company leaders can tackle the issue in many different ways which need not be complicated or costly.
“Take ten minutes out of work time to talk about health activities in your area,” he said.
“Or do something really crazy and weigh everyone, see how active they are, provide information and encourage them to get out doing things. Or take everyone rafting.”
Hughes disputes official statistics which show inactive people are likely to be 0.75 percent less productive than their active colleagues. He says the figure is more likely to be closer to five percent and therefore carries a considerable burden for businesses.
“Obesity and health problems in New Zealand are much greater than many people think,” he said.
“Over 33 percent of young New Zealanders watch TV for five hours or more every day: and that doesn’t include time spent using mobile devices.”
A trapper by trade, Hughes set up Swazi Apparel in 1994 after a crash in the skin market. The company designs and manufactures durable clothing for use on farms, hunting trips and general use outdoors.
The World Outdoors Summit was a joint event between the NZ Recreation Association and Outdoors NZ.
Hughes noted that over 68 percent of the New Zealand population is now classified as overweight: a statistic second only to the US. “So business needs to get smart in finding solutions and we need to start now.”
By Ruth Le Pla.
November 28, 2013