Over 15% of the BT workforce has signed up to an online corporate fitness initiative.
Nearly 13,000 BT employees, including BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland, have joined the Work Fit health and fitness programme to increase their life expectancy.
BT says that currently one BT employee dies prematurely every two weeks, a statistic being used to encourage membership of the scheme.
The online programme aims to make staff slimmer, fitter and healthier in 16 weeks.
“Poor diet and lack of exercise has led to an epidemic of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – it is estimated that one million people in the UK have diabetes and don’t yet realise it,” said Dr Paul Litchfield, BT’s chief medical officer.
Work Fit is BT’s initial response to its employees' health problems, and the company has worked with trade unions, the Men’s Health Forum, the British Heart Foundation and the National Obesity Forum to develop the online programme, which will supply simple advice by e-mail on fitness and health to those taking part.
More than 400 BT teams have been formed to help each other reach their targets. London and the South-East have the most people involved in the programme, with Northern Ireland bottom of the list.
Sir Christopher, a former member of the Irish Olympic fencing team, said, “This has been an astonishing response from BT people. Let’s hope we can all stick to the programme and look and feel much better in four months.”