Healthcare professionals have suggested that obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Since the disease is caused by a high caloric intake and low physical activity; are some occupational groups, like foodservice employees, at greater risk of being obese, since they have constant and free access to food and beverages?

Dr. Abraham Pizam, dean of the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, investigated this subject in an editorial published by the International Journal of Hospitality Management.

Pizam used data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics from 1997-2002 to examine the prevalence of obesity in 41 different occupations.

The study showed that male foodservice employees had an obesity rate of less than 18.5 percent, which ranked in the bottom eight of all occupations. The data also revealed that female foodservice employees had an obesity rate of 20.1 percent, ranking in the bottom 19.

While the combined male–female obesity rate (19.49 percent) was much lower than initially expected, this meant that approximately 996,563 foodservice employees in the U.S. were obese.

Pizam also noted that obesity-related disabilities cost employers approximately $8,720 per employee, which totals close to $8.7 billion annually for the foodservice industry.

To read Pizam’s full editorial, visit