A recent study, led by an associate professor at the University of Rochester, finds that providing healthy workplace programs reduced the number of overweight or obese employees by almost 9%. The study was based on two years of research, studying almost 3,800 employees. The researchers instituted workplace programs to promote healthy eating and exercise at half of the work sites and no healthy programs at the other half.
The test group that had implemented healthy workplace programs promoted things such as revamped cafeteria offerings with fewer calories and smaller portions, free meals to those who made healthy food choices, workshops to share healthy recipes, walking clubs, upgraded gym facilities, and group activities.
Workplaces are great environments to modify food options and provide physical activity having the potential to reach a large number of adults. “This study shows in particular that when employees are empowered to help shape wellness programs, these programs appear to result in meaningful improvements to health” said Diana Fernandez, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., lead author of the study.
The study tracked the workers’ BMI at the beginning and end of the two-year program. The number of workers considered overweight or obese increased by 5% over the group that did not offer healthy programs in the workplace. While the test group that had healthy programs decreased those considered overweight or obese by 4% — a net difference of 9%.