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Curbing Nurse Obesity Can Shrink Hospital Costs

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 5, 2012

"I was shocked when I came here and saw so many people (more than half) who looked so heavy," Han wrote in an email exchange with HealthLeaders Media. "This was no exception in hospitals. (In Korea, the obesity rate is not as high as here.)"

It shouldn't be surprising because Han says nurses are "surrounded with obesity risk factors."

"First of all, hectic work schedules. Non-standard work schedules affect normal eating time and habits among nurses," she writes. "For example, night shift nurses require additional efforts to get healthy food and to access facilities for exercise, and they also eat junk food during their night shifts. Extended work hours make nurses sleepy and lack of sleep is an important independent risk factor for obesity."

"Moreover, nurses, a female-dominant workforce, have double care-responsibility at work and home," Han says. "They take care of their children at home and this is another stress source and requires support from work, e.g., providing day care service, modifiable work schedules for mom nurses."

Job-related stress and fatigue induces nurses to find comfort in sweet and fatty foods.

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