Small changes at work can improve health risks

By • Published: July 30th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Your workplace needn’t be just a place where you get stressed… it can help improve your health too.

Even small changes within the work environment can help employees shave pounds and improve body mass index. So says a new workplace-based study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Health problems related to overweight and obesity account for up to three-hundred-twenty-five-thousand premature deaths each year in the United States. And it costs billions each year to treat illnesses related to being overweight.

The current research aims to answer whether workplace environmental and policy changes can improve worker health, reduce usage of health-care services and improve productivity.

The report describes the first year of an ongoing study at twelve Dow Chemical Company worksites in four states, conducted by the Institute for Health Productivity Studies.

Researchers found two kinds of simple changes to be effective: One was positioning signs around the workplace that prompted people to make good food and physical activity choices.

The other was putting healthful reminders at the “moment of choice,” such as signs near a stairwell suggesting that people take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or “eat healthy” signs in front of vending machines.

On average, those changes were linked with small amounts of weight loss, while employees gained weight at worksites that did not make such changes.

So get to work… next time you head to the office, you just might be doing something good for your health.