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Workplace Health Interventions Work

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American adult in the 25–54 age group spends over half of his or her waking hours at work. It makes sense that efforts to improve health scores among individuals who are overweight and at risk for various metabolic diseases should be emphasized at the office, suggests a recent study.

Published in Preventing Chronic Disease (2015; 12:150301), the study examined the effects of a worksite wellness program on health measures among 35 university employees with prediabetes. These individuals, guided by a life coach for 16 weeks, were instructed to reduce their body weight by 7%, exercise at a moderate or vigorous intensity for 150 minutes per week, and consume no more than 25% of their total calories from fat. The employees also met as a group once per week for 60 minutes and were given study materials, a book to help estimate calorie intake, a food log and a physical activity log. The logs were submitted to the coach on a weekly basis for review. Results of the intervention were then compared against data from 34 other university employees who received “usual care” from healthcare providers.

By the end of the study, the lifestyle group had lost an average of 5.5% of total body weight, which was maintained at a 3-month follow-up. The control group’s weight loss was negligible.

“Mean reductions in fasting glucose were greater in the intervention [group] than in the control group postintervention; both groups had significant glucose reductions at 3-month follow-up,” the authors noted.

They added that the lifestyle group was successful in reducing dietary fat and increasing fiber intake.

“Prediabetes is a growing problem in the United States and places individuals at increased risk for type 2 diabetes,” the authors stated. “Our study contributes to the limited evidence and demonstrates, through a randomized design, the feasibility and efficacy of the group-based diabetes prevention program intervention in facilitating improvement in lifestyle behaviors, weight control, and reduction in metabolic risk for type 2 diabetes among university employees with prediabetes.”

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