Around half of nurses consider themselves to be overweight and nearly one in 10 think they are very overweight, according to our annual survey on health and wellbeing.
The sensitive topic of weight among health professionals has gained more importance in recent years as pressure grows on clinicians to intervene over the growing waistlines of their patients.
Of the 2,182 respondents in our survey, 48% described themselves as “overweight”, while 8% said they were “very overweight”. A small percentage, 5%, considered themselves to be “underweight or “very underweight”, while 39% thought they were “about right”.
The findings show little change from when we asked similar questions in our last survey on health and wellbeing in 2011.
This year’s survey also sought to investigate factors that might be affecting these answers, noting that it is almost exactly four years since the Boorman Review concluded there was a “strong case” for investing in NHS staff health and wellbeing.
But in our survey two thirds of nurses said they rarely had enough time to eat healthily and nearly a third claimed their employer did not provide healthy food options.
Only 4% of 2,177 respondents to our survey said they “always” had enough time at work to eat a healthy, balanced diet. A further 30% they “mostly” had time to do so, but 43% said they “rarely” did and 23% said “never”.
When asked whether their employer provided healthy choices of food in its catering facilities, 33% said “yes” but 30% said “no”.
In August hospital trusts in England were criticised by the World Cancer Research Fund for not offering enough healthy options in vending machines.
The survey also looked at physical exercise levels, with mixed results. Nearly half of respondents said they exercised at least once a week, but a third said they rarely exercised at all.
We asked: do you do muscle-strengthening and/or moderate/vigorous aerobic activity that raises your heart rate. Of those who responded, 24% said “almost never” and 8% said “never”.
This contrasted with 5% who said “daily”, 17% who said “three or more times a week” and 24% who said “once or twice a week”. A further 17% said they exercised to this level “less than weekly” while 5% said “once a month”.
The NHS Choices website recommends adults do at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as fast walking, a week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, such as running – plus muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days.
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