Workplace design helps workers control weight: study

April 13, 2011

Atlanta – Simple changes in the workplace to promote healthy living can help employees maintain their weight, suggests a study released April 5 by researchers from the University of Georgia and Emory University.

According to a study abstract, researchers evaluated the impact certain environmental changes had on employees at several worksites owned by Dow Chemical Co. Changes included encouraging workers to take the stairs rather than the elevator and making healthy options more readily available in workplace vending machines. Researchers found these low-cost interventions helped employees avoid weight gain.

However, these environmental interventions did not promote weight loss – even when combined with individual weight management programs. “Employees who participated in the individually focused [weight management] intervention were no more successful at losing weight than those who were only exposed to the environmental interventions,” the researchers wrote. Among both groups, about 13.5 percent of workers reduced their weight by 5 percent or more.

The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.