by Cindy Weiman

Treasure your physique

Eastern Cape treasury battles obesity

Obesity has become a major concern among the Eastern Cape provincial government's employees.
Treasure your physique

We are all familiar with phrases such as the "fat cats" and  "gravy train" but when Eastern Cape MEC for Provincial Planning and Finance, Phumulo Masualle advised departments to "trim the fat", he had no idea he would be addressing the heavy issue of obesity.

The Eastern Cape treasury has called for bids from service providers to help manage its overwhelming staff obesity problem. The issue at hand is outsourcing the management of the program for the treasury. 

In the terms of references for the outsourcing of the management of an "obesity management programme" for the treasury, it is pointed out that 40% of treasury employees are obese and 25% are overweight. The succesful bidder should be able to achieve similar results as the weightloss coaches of the 'Biggest Loser' reality television series..

The objective: To lower obesity associated health risks by helping employees lose their excess body weight and maintain a new healthier body weight.

The programme must focus on "gradual and sustained weight loss achieved through a multidisciplinary approach, consisting of diet modification, exercise and behavioural therapy".

While many acknowledge the fact that obesity is a major risk factor for chronic disease, including diabetes, hypertension and stroke, they question whether or not outsourcing is a solution to this problem.

Head of monitoring and advocacy watchdog organisation, Public Service Accountability Monitor, Jay Kruuse, said the treasury should set the example for prudent spending.

"While employee wellness programmes are commendable, treasury has far greater areas of priority that require improved performance and funding to ensure that frontline departments - such as education and health - drastically improve the quality of the service they are required to progressively render in accordance with the Constitution."

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Masualle have urged departments to redirect spending from non-core to priority programmes.

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