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Could UK nurses be setting a healthier example?

Friday 8th December 2017
One-quarter of nurses in the UK are significantly overweight, new data reveals. Image: lisafx via iStock
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    More needs to be done to make sure the UK's nurses are having their own healthcare needs met, as new figures reveal over one-quarter of those working in NHS hospitals are currently obese.

    As a result, patients who are dangerously overweight may not feel able to take constructive advice from these medical professionals.

    Research carried out by scientists at London South Bank University and Edinburgh Naper University led to the discovery that 25.1 per cent of Britain's nurses are obese, with their body mass index (BMI) coming in at more than 30.

    The study authors also looked at the BMIs of other healthcare workers and found that obesity is even more of a problem among unregistered care workers, such as those who work in residential care homes or as nursing assistants. Overall, one in three of these healthcare professionals are classed as obese.

    Among the general population, 23.5 per cent of people are classed as obese, which suggests there may be a culture of nurses caring more for the health of others than looking after themselves.

    However, this could be putting their health in a serious position of risk, with the study authors highlighting that significantly overweight healthcare workers are more likely to develop certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

    Experts also believe that obesity among nurses could be fuelling the issue of healthcare workers needing to take long-term sickness leave, as being overweight can increase the risk of musculoskeletal problems. This is therefore adding to the ongoing shortage of nursing staff that is causing issues across the NHS.

    Dr Richard Kyle of Edinburgh Napier University, who co-led the study, commented: "Obesity is a global pandemic and healthcare professionals are at the heart of efforts to bring down high levels of obesity among the population.

    "It is vital that we redouble our efforts to take care of our healthcare workforce who do so much to care for others."

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