269536 Integrating Physical Activity and Healthy Eating into the Workplace Routine: A Pilot Study

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chikarlo R. Leak, MPH , Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
William McCarthy, PhD , Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Beth A. Glenn, PhD , UCLA School of Public Health, Department of Health Services, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cancer Prevention and Control Research, Los Angeles, CA
Brian Cole, DrPH , Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Antronette Yancey, MD, MPH , Kaiser-Permante Center for Health Equity, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
INTRODUCTION: Researchers have proposed establishing health promotion interventions in workplaces as a strategy to improve working-age adults' physical activity and healthy eating behaviors. This study describes a pilot cluster-randomized controlled trial of a health promotion program designed to influence employee behaviors through changing company norms concerning on-the-job physical activity and eating healthful snack foods. METHODS: Organizations were block-randomized to one of three study conditions. Prior to randomization, organizational assessments and employee anthropometric and survey data were collected. Follow-up assessments were collected 6 and 12 months later. Organizations in the comprehensive condition received a physical activity and healthy eating intervention, organizations in the standard condition received a physical activity intervention and the waitlist control group received no intervention until after the six-month follow-up. RESULTS: Twenty-five organizations (representing 399 employees) participated in the study. Most participants were overweight or obese. Approximately 60% of participants spent 17.5 minutes or less engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Most (50%) participants were highly sedentary and ate too few daily fruits and vegetables. Regression analyses revealed the ratio of employees reporting their health as “very good” to be positively related to the number of physical activity policies endorsed by the organization (z=1.99, P < 0.05). Perceived workplace social norms for physical activity and nutrition covaried with the number of organizational health promotion policies in force. DISCUSSION: We found that organizations involved in the study were supportive of workplace health promotion activities. This study highlights the feasibility of low-cost worksite-wide wellness strategies for improving employee health.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the typical characteristics of employees from human service organizations recruited to a workplace health promotion intervention designed to reduce risk of overweight or obesity. 2) Identify the wellness policies and practices in place that facilitate employees engaging in non-discretionary work time healthy behaviors. 3) Assess the relationship between organizational-level policies and employees’ self-reported health.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Organizational Change

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have significant theoretical knowledge and professional expertise in worksite wellness programming, physical activity promotion, and health promotion. Furthermore, I have been directly involved in all areas of development and execution of the UCLA WORKING Project since 2008.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.