Workplace environmental interventions designed to reduce employee obesity led to modest health improvements, including weight management, decreased tobacco use and lower blood pressure, say Emory University researchers.
Ron Goetzel, research professor of health policy and management, and his colleagues looked at nine Dow Chemical Co. work sites that instituted environmental changes aimed at preventing obesity. Employees were provided greater access to healthy foods, physical activity through walking trails and a pedometer program, health education materials, leadership training, physical activity and weight-management programs, health assessments and individual consultations, and online behavioral change programs.
The study also included three control work sites where employees received only individually focused health interventions through Dow's core health promotion program.
After one year, the workers participating in the environmental weight-management interventions significantly reduced their blood pressure risk and maintained a steady weight when compared to workers at the control sites.
The findings were presented Wednesday at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting, in San Diego.
"These are early findings from a longer and large multi-site study that examine the effects of introducing relatively low-cost environmental and ecological interventions at the workplace aimed at curbing the growth of overweight and obesity among workers," Goetzel said in an Emory news release.
"We continue to study the effects of environmental interventions aimed at preventing obesity in the workplace, and we are now beginning to analyze results from the second year. We expect to present updated findings at future scientific meetings."
Recently, I have become very interested in worksite health promotion interventions. I think it is a great way to target people in their everyday setting. People are at work for 8+ hours a day - which I think offers a great opportunity for employers to intervene and promote healthy behaviors. Not only will it reduce their insurance costs, but it will make the workers more productive. Last spring I did a semester long project on a pedometer-based worksite health promotion program and it is a very cost-effective way to increase walking at work. I am glad to see program especially aimed at obesity.