Scotland nurses '˜more likely' to be overweight

More Scottish nurses are overweight than their counterparts south of the border.

Scots nurses are more likely to be overweight than their English counterparts south of the border.

Research jointly carried out by Edinburgh Napier University and London South Bank University found 69 per cent of nurses in Scotland were overwheight and 29 per cent obese.

In comparison, 61 per cent of staff in England were overweight and 25 per cent classed as obese.

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The findings have sparked fears that patients will ignore weight loss advice given out by NHS staff.

The research was published in the journal BMJ Open and were described as “deeply worrying” by Napier’s study author Dr Richard Kyle.

Norman Provan, the associate director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, said health boards needed to do more the for the wellbeing of staff.

Nursing chiefs have blamed the job’s ‘relentless’ pressure on leaving staff with little time to eat properly or exercise.

The study examined data from more than 20,000 working-age adults.

Participants were split into four groups: nurses, other healthcare professionals, including doctors, dentists and physiotherapists, unregistered care workers and people employed in non health-related jobs.

Among the 18,500 people from the general population surveyed, the rate of obesity was found to be 23.5 per cent.

The authors cautioned that the high rates of obesity among nurses and unregistered care workers were “concerning” because it increases the risk of musculoskeletal conditions and mental health conditions - some of the main causes of sickness absence in the health service.

Co-author Dr Richard Kyle, from Edinburgh Napier University, said: “Obesity is a global pandemic and healthcare professionals are at the heart of efforts to bring down high levels of obesity among the population.

“That one in four nurses in England have been found to be obese is deeply worrying, not least because we know that obesity is linked to diseases such as cancer, cardio-vascular disease, and diabetes.

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

Professor Jane Wills, from London South Bank University, and co-author of the paper, said: “The high prevalence of obesity among the healthcare workforce should urge policymakers and employers to provide solutions through workplace initiatives that support staff to maintain a healthy body weight.”

Kim Sunley, senior employment relations officer at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: “There is no doubt obesity is a major public health issue, and we know nurses sometimes struggle to make healthy choices due to long hours, shift work and stress.

“In response, the RCN has worked with partner organisations to develop the Nursing You resource. This helps nurses recognise triggers for unhealthy decisions and make better food choices.

“This is the latest addition to the RCN’s Healthy Workplace, Healthy You initiative, which aims to improve nurses’ health by working with employers to improve conditions and promote self-care.”

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