health, public sector

Companies urged to follow TV chef Jamie

TV chef Jamie Oliver started the healthy eating revolution with children . . . now companies are being urged to follow suit.

Staff at NHS Lothian are offering free advice and training to help local firms introduce healthy food in staff canteens. Businesses are also being given advice on other staff health issues.

Sue Muir of Lothian’s health promotion team said: “Jamie Oliver has shown that healthy school food can improve children’s behaviour and their work in the classroom. The same goes for adults. Eating good food and adopting a healthy lifestyle at work can reduce staff absenteeism, improve performance – and cut costs like sick pay.

“We have a simple message for local employers: investing in the health of your staff can be the best investment you’ll make.”

The latest UK figures, for 2003/04, show that 39 million work days were lost due to work-related ill-health – and that 2.2 million people were suffering from health problems linked to their jobs. In 2002, the CBI put the cost to UK firms for staff sickness at £12 billion a year.

Health chiefs in Lothian believe with the right kind of support, the costly trend can be reversed – and that firms will see big benefits.

Mrs Muir added: “We give advice and training to employers to help them make their businesses better – and more healthy – places to work.”

NHS Lothian staff give advice on a range of issues – from healthy eating and improving fitness to dealing with smoking.

“Changes employers could make might include improving the canteen menu or introducing subsidised gym membership to get staff to be more active,” said Mrs Muir.

“The support we offer is free of charge … and changes needn’t be costly for employers to implement. Employers who work with us certainly reap the benefits.”

Any companies, large or small, interested in getting help should contact Lothian’s health promotion team on 0131 536 3508.

Companies who adopt healthier practices can also register for the Scotland?s Health At Work award – a free, national programme to encourage healthy workplaces. Seventy per cent of companies who have taken part found that staff health had improved. More details are at http://www.shaw.uk.com

To find out more about Jamie Oliver?s campaign to get better school dinners, visit his website at http://www.feedmebetter.com

Issued by ADRIAN MAHONEY of The PR Store
on behalf of NHS Lothian

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