State to trim fat off workers

2013-10-20 10:00

Vetkoek off the menu in the Eastern Cape

Amagwinya (fatcakes), deep-fried fish, fatty meat and hot chips are off the menu for some of the Eastern Cape’s government employees.

Mlibo Qoboshiyane, the province’s MEC for local government and traditional affairs, will tomorrow launch a weight-loss programme in Bhisho aimed at helping its employees lose weight – and the office canteen will undergo a radical change.

Recently, 582 of the department’s 1?600 employees were screened – and 121 were found to be obese.

At least 341 employees had high cholesterol levels.

Then the department analysed its employees’ sick leave patterns and found that most sick leave was taken because of respiratory diseases, stress, depression, headaches and anxiety – almost all linked to weight and unhealthy-lifestyle problems.

With that much sick leave, Qoboshiyane and his colleagues realised, productivity was low.

So the department partnered with Capitec Bank and will bring in weight-loss experts to put employees on the right track and get them exercising. The bank will fund the experts and market the entire programme.

Qoboshiyane told City Press he would join the programme so that his employees could see it was worth taking seriously.

“We don’t want people to just come to work. We want them to be happy and we want to educate them about the advantages of living a healthy lifestyle, exercising and healthy eating habits.

“At the end of the day, we hope to have more healthy employees and better production. We want everyone to feel good about themselves and to take pride in their jobs,” said Qoboshiyane.

He hoped his colleagues in the provincial cabinet would follow the department’s example.

“I am going to share the results of this exercise with the premier, with a view to taking it to other government departments as well,” he said.

The provincial government employs 137?000 people.

Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, Qoboshiyane’s spokesperson, said he weighed 110kg and confirmed he would be taking part.

“A healthy employee is a productive employee. Moreover, this programme will help me lose weight and put me in better shape to deal with some of the sicknesses I currently face,” he said.

“At the end of it all, we hope to reduce absenteeism and have workers who are healthy, happy and more productive,” said Sicwetsha.

Thozamile Botha, who works for the department of local government, said he weighed 120kg and desperately wanted to lose weight.

“I think it’s a great idea and opportunity for people like me. I have a big tummy, which makes me very uncomfortable,” said Botha.

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