Poor Health Habits Linked to Subpar Work Performance


People who engage in unhealthy habits such as smoking, eating a poor diet and not getting enough exercise turn out to be less productive on the job, new Dutch research shows. Unhealthy lifestyle choices also appear to translate into a greater need for sick leave and longer periods of time off from work when sick leave is taken, the study reveals. The finding is reported in the Sept. 28 online edition of the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

"More than 10 percent of sick leave and the higher levels of productivity loss at work may be attributed to lifestyle behaviors and obesity," Alex Burdorf, of the department of public health at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues noted in a news release from the journal's publisher. Between 2005 and 2009, Burdorf and his associates surveyed more than 10,600 people who worked for 49 different companies in the Netherlands.

Participants were asked to discuss both lifestyle and work habits, rating their work productivity on a scale of 0 to 10, while offering information about their weight, height, health history and the number of days they had to call in sick during the prior year. The investigators found that 56 percent of those polled had taken off at least one day in the preceding year because of poor health. Being obese, smoking, and having poor diet and exercise habits were contributing factors in just over 10 percent of sick leave occurrences.

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