Ever tasted antibiotics? Probably not, they’re bitter as all hell.
Which you’ll know soon enough if you bite through a capsule without meaning to.
Except, excuse us, what do antibiotics have to do with corporate wellness plans?
Only that they’re why most corporate wellness plans exist in the first place.
And with growing realisation that looking after employee health is a major business objective, corporate wellness plans are already the Next Big Thing.
The wellness bandwagon
Look no further than the new emphasis on physical activity in business workplaces. Big buck outfits put in swimming pools and running tracks, while smaller ones have gyms. Or if budgets can’t stretch to that, sponsored membership of the keep-fit centre down the road.
Skilled staff are assets to be wooed and cultivated long-term. So the new drive is an investment against long-term health conditions like the nation’s rapidly increasing obesity epidemic. Two thirds of British adults are already overweight or obese, marking them inevitably as future victims of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Which is why pretty well all front-line businesses are gung-ho for a “fitness against fatness” strategy.
There’s only one problem.
Yes, we’re all getting fatter, which is not good for our long-term health. And yes, most office jobs are sedentary and involve very little moving around. But while exercise and fitness is undoubtedly a good thing, it often has little or no effect on encouraging weight loss.
That’s because, as Lord McColl, emeritus professor of surgery at Guys Hospital and former shadow health minister told Parliament last year, “It is impossible to be obese unless one is eating too many calories.”
The bitter pill
Ergo, we’re fat because we’re eating too much.
And why, after thousands of years of our bodies most of the time naturally remaining slim and trim, are we suddenly eating more than we should?
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we all do it without knowing.
We’re all eating too much because of antibiotics.
Unless we’re farmers, few of us are aware that antibiotics are phenomenal growth boosters – used in great volumes across the board for food production to sustain our massive explosion in population growth over the past 65 years – from 2½ billion worldwide in 1952 to 7½ billion today.
We think of antibiotics as medicines, the miracle life-savers of our modern age. In reality this is a side effect, now secondary to their main function as growth boosters in agriculture. Believe it or not, 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics are shovelled into animal and plant production every year.
Like it or not, that means sustained sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics are in everything we eat – meat or vegetable – particularly over the last 20 years with the introduction of factory farming.
Without any idea that it’s happening, our own bodies react in the same way to these continuous low doses. We eat more and more, beyond when our natural needs and requirements would normally tell us to stop.
So like the animals, we fatten up fast – but with a difference. They are only going to survive 45 weeks, until they are ready for market. We keep on going, not just getting fat but getting fatter – almost accepted as the new norm. So everyday in fact, that there is now an international resort that caters expressly for the plus-sized.
Not good news for corporate wellness planners. Enough to make them bitter and twisted. Because no matter how elaborate the facilities they put in to encourage our fitness, with the exception of the health-obsessed, we’re all just going to get fatter.
The very long-term health conditions they’re trying to avoid are on their way – we’re literally eating ourselves into diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Nor is that the only thing to be bitter about.
With all the big bucks focus on corporate wellness, nobody seems to be thinking workplace health protection. A running track might be great for muscle tone, but it won’t stop a tummy bug like norovirus. Nor will antibiotics, come to that – though we strongarm the Doc for them.
Antibiotics: a living curse
Meanwhile our workplaces are crawling with germs that may never be removed, even with regular cleaning. On high-touch surfaces and in the air – a possibly deadly health hazard most corporate planners are never aware of – and a £319 billion dent in our national productivity.
Plenty to be bitter about – though workplace germs CAN be eliminated at the touch of a button.
The bigger problem is antibiotics. We can’t live with them, and we can’t live without them. They save lives, but antimicrobial resistance from overuse is rapidly making them useless. And they promote growth – bigger animals, quicker; larger plant crops, faster – without which there wouldn’t be enough food to feed us all.
Altogether, a train we cannot get off.
No good being bitter about it though – and at least we get amazing places to work in.
About this blog
Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi. Achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. The only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.