Crew health: Obesity onboard

Shipowners Club has partnered with the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) to raise awareness of crew-related illness and to assist members in mitigating against related incidents. In the first of a series on Splash, we take a look today at the issue of diet and exercise onboard.

In today’s world, activities at work and at home are generally less physical than previous generations. Given the proliferation of convenience foods and snacks on offer, and at low prices, diets are becoming increasingly unhealthy.

Our more sedentary lifestyle is also reflected onboard ships and can lead to overweight crewmembers. Eating healthily and keeping fit are two vital principles that help individuals maintain a healthy body weight and in turn reduce the likeliness of getting ill, improving lifestyle onboard.

Claims related to illness are frequently notified to the club with the number of claims reported remaining steady in number over the last five policy years.

If body weight increases this can lead to individuals being overweight and if not curbed can result in obesity. Being overweight is associated with a range of illnesses, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and strokes, to name a few. Those who are overweight are therefore at a greater risk of premature death from health problems related to weight.

There are two main ways of telling if a person is overweight:

• Through using the BMI (Body Mass Index) formula in which a person can find out if their weight is normal in relation to their body length.
• Through measuring waist circumference which provides an independent prediction of risk over and above BMI.

The two main ways of reducing body weight are:

• Maintaining a general good level of fitness.

ISWAN’s Training on Board newsletters include useful advice on matters such as BMI, exercise of the month and an ask the experts. These materials furnish crew with the knowledge they need to improve their lifestyle on board, acting as a preventative measure against illness.

• Through a healthy diet.

It is vital that you look after your own health and well-being at sea and ashore. Make healthy, nutritious food choices and ensure a balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre, vitamins and minerals with minimum levels of salt, fat and sugar. Proper nutrition, along with adequate rest and sleep, regular exercise and good hygiene help to prevent diseases and improve health overall. Access to healthy food options and variation are cornerstones of healthy food on board.

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