In the study, some facilities of a large chemical company underwent a series of environmental interventions designed to promote healthier lifestyles. For example, vending machines and cafeterias were stocked with healthy food choices, marked walking paths were established, and signs were strategically placed encouraging increased physical activity. Other sites did not receive the environmental modifications.
Ron Z. Goetzel, the study's lead author from the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, said one-year follow-up data on more than 3,000 employees found small but significant health improvements for workers at sites with environmental modifications. The changes included a decreased risk of obesity and a reduced rate of high blood pressure.
Businesses are increasingly looking for new ways to reduce overweight and obesity among employees. A previous study by Goetzel's group found that medical costs are about 20 percent higher for obese workers than for non-obese workers. In addition, other research has shown that obese employers are more likely to file workers' compensation claims and suffer traumatic injuries.
April 20, 2009
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