Worksite Influences on Obesogenic Behaviors in Low-Wage Workers in St Louis, Missouri, 2013–2014
Published Date:May 07 2015
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 12.
More than one-third of US adults are obese. Workplace programs to reduce obesity and improve overall health are not available or accessible to all workers, particularly low-wage workers among whom obesity is more prevalent. The goal of the study was to identify modifiable workplace factors and behaviors associated with diet and exercise to inform future workplace interventions to improve health.
We distributed paper and online surveys to 2 groups of low-wage workers, hospital workers and retail sales workers, at the worksites. The surveys assessed obesity, obesogenic behaviors, workplace factors, and worker participation in workplace health programs (WHPs). Descriptive and regression analyses were conducted to examine workplace factors associated with obesogenic behaviors.
A total of 529 surveys were completed (219 hospital workers and 310 retail workers). More than 40% of workers were obese and 27% were overweight. In general, workers had poor diets (frequent consumption of sugary and high-fat foods) and engaged in little physical activity (only 30.9% met recommended physical activity guidelines). Access to and participation in workplace health programs varied greatly between hospital and retail sales workers. We identified several modifiable workplace factors, such as food source and work schedule, that were associated with diet, exercise, or participation in workplace health programs.
This study illustrates the high prevalence of obesity and obesogenic behaviors workers in 2 low-wage groups. The differences between work groups indicated that each group had unique facilitators and barriers to healthy eating and exercise. An understanding of how socioeconomic, demographic, and work-related factors influence health will help to identify high-risk populations for intervention and to design interventions tailored and relevant to the target audiences.
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