Nutrition interventions in the workplace: Evidence of best practice
AbstractAim: The aim of this desktop study was to review all workplace interventions having a nutrition component, published in peer-reviewed literature between 1995 and 2006 by WHO, and to document activities that were successful, as well as possible barriers to their success.
Methodology: A systematic review of workplace studies revealed 41 interventions, of which 30 complied with the predetermined search criteria. The following outcome measures were considered in the evaluation of the interventions: (i) changes in nutritional knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, intentions and stage of change; (ii) changes in dietary behaviours; (iii) changes in clinical/physical markers, such as: body weight or body-mass index (BMI), blood pressure (BP) or serum cholesterol concentrations; and (iv) process and/or policy outcomes.
Results: A large number of diverse workplace interventions were successful in changing outcomes positively in the interventions evaluated. The following were key success factors: i) there was a nutrition and physical activity component; ii) dietitians were involved in nutrition education; iii) changes occurred in the cafeteria/canteen, which increased the availability of healthy food options and advertised them accordingly; iv) tailored feedback on diet (and clinical values) was given to subjects; v) employees were involved in planning and managing programmes; vi) the reduced prices (of healthy food items) in vending machines encouraged employees to buy healthier options; and vii) the stages of change theory was most commonly associated with best practice outcomes.
Conclusions: Numerous workplace interventions have shown significant improvements in employees’ health and behaviours. However, it is necessary to plan intervention programmes based on the existing evidence of best practice.
Material submitted for publication in the South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition (SAJCN) is accepted provided it has not been published elsewhere. Copyright forms will be sent with acknowledgement of receipt and the SAJCN reserves copyright of the material published.
The SAJCN does not hold itself responsible for statements made by the authors.