There is a rising trend among nurses who are becoming overweight and obese. This is causing a rise in cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, other chronic conditions and musculoskeletal issues. Being in high-stress jobs with tremendous responsibilities stacks the deck against them to eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. All of this can affect these nurses both professionally and personally.
However, obesity does not mean incompetence. A nurse’s skills have nothing to do with body size. Retaining, assessing and processing information are no different between a nurse who weighs 120 pounds and one who weighs 180 pounds. But, obese nurses may eventually have difficulty with the physical aspects of their jobs.
Obesity among nurses is multifactorial:
POOR DIET: Eating too much processed, fried and junk foods. Consuming too much alcohol and sugar filled sodas. Eating “on the run”. Overeating – consuming more calories in a day than are expended in daily activity.
LACK OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Although it seems like walking long hallways during 8 – 12 hour shifts should be plenty of activity, it’s not enough to meet the American Heart Association’s recommended 30 minutes of intentional, moderate to vigorous physical activity five or more time per week.
LACK OF SLEEP: Shift changes, night shifts and the demands of life in general when you’re not working all contribute to sleep deprivation and the quality of sleep. It’s hard to get the recommended minimum 8 hours of sleep each night or day. When the body isn’t fully rested, it’s too tired to exercise and we consume more calories for more energy. So it becomes a vicious cycle.
STRESS: A fact of the nursing professional’s life is stress. Being a female dominant workforce, they have the added responsibilities of children, aging parents and running the home in most cases. Chronic stress is linked to obesity as well as depression and cancer.
We would love to hear from you! If you were an obese nurse who has lost weight, please share your story of inspiration with us.