A new study from the University College Cork in Ireland has shed new light on how to increase the effectiveness of worksite wellness programs. A team of researchers, led by Dr. Fiona Geaney, who began the study four years ago, examined the workplace eating options and health of more than 800 employees at four firms in the Cork area.
Over this period of time, researchers followed up with the subjects in three - and four-month intervals to find out how changes in food preparation, food options, controlling portion sizes affected BMI.
Participants also received both group and individual nutrition counseling and learned a 'traffic light' system of explaining fat, sugar and salt levels of all meals and vending machine options.
Researchers also modified employee meals - like removing cream from a recipe - and conducted taste tests to create a healthy meal that employees and caterers could agree on.
Subsequently, by the nine-month mark, participants had greatly reduced their fat, sugar and salt consumption. The results were "small but significant decreases in BMI". The team concluded that their program helped reduce absenteeism and improve productivity.
Dr. Geaney claimed that, if adopted by the proper stakeholders and policy-makers, this could be a tool to help diminish the frequency and economic costs of life-style diseases across the world.
Because of the workplace's unique position as the location most people spend a majority of their waking time, any solution to the growing obesity problem must involve the office in some capacity.