Workplace Social and Organizational Environments and Healthy-Weight Behaviors
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Workplace Social and Organizational Environments and Healthy-Weight Behaviors

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  • Alternative Title:
    PLoS One
  • Description:
    Background The workplace is an important setting for health promotion including nutrition and physical activity behaviors to prevent obesity. This paper explores the relationship between workplace social environment and cultural factors and diet and physical activity (PA) behaviors and obesity among employees. Methods Between 2012 and 2013, telephone interviews were conducted with participants residing in four Missouri metropolitan areas. Questions included demographic characteristics, workplace socio/organizational factors related to activity and diet, and individual diet and PA behaviors, and obesity. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine associations between the workplace socio/organizational environment and nutrition, PA, and obesity. Results There were differences in reported health behaviors and socio/organizational environment by gender, race, age, income, and worksite size. For example, agreement with the statement the ‘company values my health’ was highest among Whites, older employees, and higher income workers. As worksite size increased, the frequency of reporting seeing co-workers doing several types of healthy behaviors (eat fruits and vegetables, doing PA, and doing PA on breaks at work) increased. In adjusted analyses, employees agreeing the company values my health were more likely to engage in higher PA levels (aOR=1.54, 95% CI: 1.09-2.16) and less likely to be obese (aOR=0.73, 95% CI: 0.54-0.98). Seeing co-workers eating fruits and vegetables was associated with increased reporting of eating at least one vegetable per day (aOR=1.43, 95% CI: 1.06-1.91) and seeing co-workers being active was associated with higher PA levels (aOR 1.56, 95% CI: 1.19-2.05). Conclusions This research suggests that social/organizational characteristics of the workplace environment, particularly feeling the company values the workers’ health and to seeing co-workers engaging in healthy behaviors, may be related to nutrition and PA behaviors and obesity. These findings point to the potential for intervention targets including environment and policy changes.
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