Nursing Online – October 2008

Nursing in an age of obesity

The obesity epidemic will have significant implications for the nursing and midwifery professions. The number of obese patients requiring nursing and midwifery care will have a significant impact on our practice. Bariatric (severely obese) patients will present a range of challenges and there will also be risks associated with obesity within the nursing and midwifery workforce.

The impact of shift work on people’s daily health habits and adverse health outcomes
Isabella Zhao & Catherine Turner (2008), Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, Volume 25 Number 3

This article reviews the published scientific literature for studies analysing the association between shift work and people’s daily health habits (as measured by diet, exercise, smoking or alcohol consumption) and adverse health outcomes such as obesity.
The majority of the studies found that shift workers had more adverse lifestyle behaviours. Compared to non-shift workers, the nutritional intake of shift workers is less healthy and they are more likely to smoke when compared to non-shift workers. Shift workers also tend to be overweight.
It concludes that shift work impacts negatively on daily health habits and can lead to adverse health outcomes, such as poor dietary intake, smoking, and becoming overweight. The majority of Australian health care workers, and in particular nurses, work rotating shifts. It is important to have a greater understanding of the impact of shift work on our health care workforce.
www.ajan.com.au/Vol25/AJAN_25-3.pdf

Occupational Health & Safety Issues Associated with Management of Bariatric (Severely Obese) Patients
NSW Health 2005

The Guidelines recommend that each Health Service identifies health facilities within its boundaries for the management of bariatric (severely obese) patients, and that those health facilities identify, assess and control the OHS risks associated with bariatric patient management, and consolidate the results of the risk management process in a facility Bariatric Patient Management Plan. This Plan can then be activated when there is a planned or unplanned admission of a bariatric patient.
www.health.nsw.gov.au/policies/gl/2005/pdf/GL2005_070.pdf

Overweight and obesity: Implications for workplace health and safety and workers’ compensation
Australian Safety and Compensation Council 2007

The obesity epidemic is a contemporary challenge for developed countries. To address increasing overweight and obesity rates, the Australian Government has developed initiatives such as the National Obesity Taskforce and the Healthy Living Ministerial Taskforce.

To date, the focus has largely been on obesity as a health issue and little has been done in response to obesity as a workplace concern. However, larger workers have implications for workplace health and safety and the workers’ compensation system. Increasing overweight and obesity rates suggest, for example, that more workers will carry excess weight, are likely to be unfit, and be physically impaired. Manual handling risks associated with the care of people who are severely obese (bariatric patients) is also of concern and is the focus of current research being carried out by the Office of the ASCC.

To understand how an increased prevalence of overweight and obesity will affect occupational health and safety and the workers’ compensation system in Australia, this paper briefly scopes out the potential impacts of overweight and obesity on the workplace.
www.ascc.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/50FBDA8C-6AD5-4593-875D 24674E4B7D88/0/overweight_and_obesity.pdf