Promoting Dietary Change Among State Health Employees in Arkansas Through a Worksite Wellness Program: The Healthy Employee Lifestyle Program (HELP)
Published Date:Sep 15 2009
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 6(4).
Maintaining a healthy and productive workforce is essential for employers in public and private sectors. Poor nutrition and obesity contribute to chronic diseases and influence health care costs and productivity. Research indicates that eating a healthy diet is associated with lower body mass index and reduced risk for developing chronic disease.
The Arkansas Department of Health implemented the Healthy Employee Lifestyle Program to encourage wellness among state health employees. During the pilot year, participants completed a health risk assessment at baseline and again after 1 year that assessed diet and physical activity, other health risk factors, and readiness to make behavioral changes. Participants were encouraged to eat healthfully, participate in regular exercise, report health behaviors using a Web-based reporting system, accumulate points for healthy behaviors, and redeem points for incentives. Differences in participants' (n = 214) reported dietary behaviors between baseline and follow-up were assessed using χ2 analyses and tests of symmetry.
Consumption of sweets/desserts, fats, protein, grains, processed meats, and dairy did not differ significantly from baseline to follow-up. However, at follow-up more participants reported eating 3 or more fruits and vegetables per day than at baseline and being in the action and maintenance stages of readiness to change for eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables per day and for eating a diet low in fat.
Further study is needed to examine physical activity and other health risk factors to determine whether the program merits a broader dissemination.
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