SNAPSHOT: Workplace Wellness

Can a workplace wellness program improve diet and health?

Yes, according to a study in the journal Public Health Nutrition by Professor Ghada Soliman (Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy) and colleagues.

The study looked at 12,636 employees who participated in a wellness program based in the Midwest for three consecutive years between 2004 and 2013. The program promoted healthy lifestyles with annual screening, lab measures, and online and onsite personalized nutrition education and health coaching to identify risks and develop goals. Resources included nutritious recipes and exercise tips, self-tracking and integrating wearable health and physical activity apps.

A vending machine filled with fruits and vegetables

Participants’ food group intakes, body mass index, triglyceride levels and other health indicators were compared in the first and final year.  The study showed that more participants increased their intake of fruits, vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables than those who decreased consumption of those food groups, according to self-reported surveys in the third year of the program.

Data from the third-year follow-up also showed that “consumption of low-fat foods, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and plant protein” correlated with lower (and therefore improved) BMI and triglyceride levels.

The “large sample size was a strength” of the study because it allowed the authors to “verify the impact” of counseling on healthier eating patterns. Those dietary changes ultimately correlated with measurably improved health outcomes.