Obese seafarers are more vulnerable to catching or even dying from coronavirus, studies show, making it vital that shipping companies prioritise crewmembers’ welfare by outsourcing catering management to a specialist.
A World Obesity Federation report found that death rates from Covid-19 were 10 times higher in countries with 50%+ of the population classed as obese. Mexico has the biggest number of coronavirus cases globally – and one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Meanwhile, the UK, where obesity rates are the highest in Europe, has a disproportionate death rate for covid-19 compared with other countries.
The correlation between obesity and the increased risk of contracting coronavirus is a stark warning for the shipping industry, according to Christian Ioannou, Managing Director of MCTC, the international catering management and training provider.
“It’s clear that being obese can make you more susceptible to coronavirus,” he said. “With that in mind, shipping companies have a responsibility to ensure seafarers eat delicious, well-balanced and nutritious food that keeps their body and mind healthy.”
Mr Ioannou’s comments coincide with Day of the Seafarer, held on 25 June each year to recognise the contribution crewmembers make to international trade and the world economy. The theme for this year is a ‘Fair Future for Seafarers’, with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) encouraging governments to support onboard workers during the pandemic. The IMO is also calling for crewmembers to get fair treatment, working conditions, training and safety post-covid.
The best way for shipping operators and managers to support crewmembers’ welfare when it comes to diet is to outsource to a catering management company, Mr Ioannou said.
“One of the challenges for shipping companies is they may not have the in-house expertise or resources to prepare the right meals for their seafarers. That’s why it’s important to hire a specialist, such as MCTC, with the necessary knowledge of nutrition, diet and food preparation.”
Mr Ioannou added that MCTC has a “sincere desire to change seafarers’ lives by transforming the workplace into a happier, healthier place”.
Since launching in 2013, MCTC has established itself as one of the maritime industry’s leading catering management providers. The company’s Catering Management Programme covers everything a vessel needs to feed its crew such as ordering supplies, recipe planning, menu management and health and nutrition.
MCTC also provides a Catering Competency Development Programme, designed to increase standards in the galley through a safe food-handling and nutrition course; onshore upgrading culinary course; trade tests; briefings; onboard visits and crew conferences.