Princess Deems Overweight Staff and Crew Unfit for Duty
Princess Cruises Introduces New Fitness Standards
|Los Angeles-based Princess Cruises has issued new fitness standards for it's onboard employees. The new standards include mandatory company fitness evaluations with urine tests, chest x-rays, and BMI tests. |
The new standards, which were implemented in Jan 2009 without notice, limit employees to a BMI of 30. Employees who have a BMI over 30 are considered unfit for duty and some of them, to whom this news comes as a surprise, are now told they cannot work until they lose the weight and suddenly find themselves without income.
A high-ranking security officer with Princess was recently told that he had to lose 45 pounds before he could return to work. “My biggest beef”, he says, “is that there was no official notice, no notice at all...Just showing up at the doctor's office to be told you need to lose 45 pounds...With that, I am unemployed until I lose the weight.”
Besides the basic issue of discrimination against heavier people, it has been shown that BMI is not an accurate determiner of obesity. Many people with a high muscle-to-height ratio, such as athletes, for example, have a BMI that says they are obese. BMI has also been shown to be a racially-biased test, giving some ethnicities higher or lower BMI standards than others.
What's more, there are many other factors to take into consideration when evaluating 'fitness'. Thin people who are inactive and smoke, for example, are generally less 'fit' than heavier people who are active. In fact, it has been proven weight is not any indication of fitness.
Princess does practically nothing to discourage it's employees from smoking or drinking, nor do they endorse an exercise regime for it's employees. However, even if they did, most Princess employees work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have little time to exercise. Furthermore, Princess offers sparse healthy eating options for their employees who live on the ship for six to ten months at a time. More important health risks have seemingly been ignored, such as exposure to second hand smoke in the crew and staff areas.
We certainly hope Princess Cruises realizes their blunder and implements fairer fitness criteria for their employees.
More About BMI
|Body mass index (BMI) can be used to screen patients because the test is simple, correlates to fatness, and applies to both men and women (1). The World Health Organization regard a BMI of less than 18.5 as underweight and may indicate malnutrition, an eating disorder, or other health problems, while a BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is considered obese (1, 2, 3). These ranges of BMI values are valid only as statistical categories when applied to adults, and do not predict health (3).|
The BMI may not apply to some individuals with more than normal muscle mass and acceptable levels of body fat, like those with athletic builds (1, 3). BMI has also been shown to be racially bias underscoring its limitation and usefulness only as a screening tool. In some ethnic groups, such as Pacific Islanders, BMI overestimates fatness and risk. Asians are at risk with a BMI > 23 (1,2,3). Pacific Islanders are at risk with a BMI > 26 (1).
- World Health Organization
Mortality Literature Review
|Fitness level (i.e. cardiovascular capacity) is far more important than body weight as a predictor of longevity. Individuals as great as 50 pounds over the recommended weight in height/weight charts have lower mortality rates than thin people who were sedentary (Blair & Paffenbarger, 1994; Blair, et al., 1989).|
There is no clear-cut evidence substantiating obesity causes poor health and reduced longevity (Gaesser, 1996; Ernsberger & Haskew, 1987).
Weight loss for overweight individuals may fail to improve health and can actually increase mortality rates (Andres, Muller & Sorkin, 1993).
The best mortality rates are those 25 to 30 percent over ideal recommended weight (Gaesser, 1996).
Thin underactive men have 2.5 times the death rate than active overweight men.
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