A couple of interesting studies on how workplace obesity programs can lower health risks:
A study recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that environmental changes can positively impact employees’ health risks, including weight. Ron Goetzel et al. discussed the first-year results of Dow Chemical’s obesity prevention program, studying over 8,000 employees (all part of a longitudinal study sponsored by the NHLBI. The program was designed to test whether or not low-cost environmental workplace interventions decrease obesity and chronic disease rates in the employee population. After the first year of the study, tobacco use and high blood pressure had also decreased significantly.
Similarly, I and my coauthors published a study in the same occupational health journal in 2007, where we also found that a comprehensive obesity management program may decrease health risks, including weight and BMI. The obesity program we examined emphasized individual behavior change at three Fortune 500 corporations, where the improvements in health and costs outcomes were modest but real, a year after the program ended.
It’s feasible to believe obesity management programs in conjunction with environmental changes (easy access to walking paths on a corporate campus, healthy foods in the cafeteria, etc.) will produce greater improvements in health outcomes that can be maintained in the long-term.