Worksite obesity prevention interventions

Worksite nutrition and physical activity programs use educational, environmental, and behavioral strategies to improve health-related behaviors and health outcomes. These programs may include written materials, skill-building (e.g., cue control), individual or group counseling, improved access to healthy foods (e.g., changing cafeteria or vending machine options), and opportunities to be more active at work (e.g., on-site facilities for exercise or standing/walking workstations) (CG-Obesity).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased physical activity

  • Improved weight status

  • Increased fruit & vegetable consumption

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Increased self-confidence

  • Reduced employer health insurance costs

  • Increased productivity

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that worksite nutrition and physical activity programs increase physical activity, weight loss (, CG-Obesity, ), and fruit and vegetable consumption among employees ().

Worksite nutrition and physical activity programs that utilize multiple components appear to be more successful than programs that utilize only one component (CG-Obesity). Successful programs have been shown to enhance self-confidence for participants, and benefit employers through increased employee productivity and reduced medical care costs (CG-Obesity).

Worksite programs appear to be cost effective strategies to increase physical activity and improve weight status (CG-Obesity).

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

There are a number of worksite-based obesity prevention programs in the US. Some examples include New Hampshire’s Healthy Eating Active Living program (HEAL), the CDC’s StairWELL initiative (CDC-HWI StairWELL), and North Carolina’s Eat Smart, Move More NC program (ESMM NC).

Implementation Resources

WI DHS-Worksite Wellness - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Worksite wellness resource kit.

Physical Activity @ Work - Alberta Center for Active Living. Physical activity @ work.

NYS DOH-Healthy meetings - New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH). Guidelines for healthy meetings.

Rutgers-Kinsey 2009 - Kinsey J. Workplace wellness: Ways to increase your physical activity on the job. New Brunswick: New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Rutgers University; 2009: FS 1107.

CDC-WHP - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Workplace health promotion (WHP): Toolkit on how to design, implement, and evaluate effective workplace health programs.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Verweij 2011* - Verweij LM, Coffeng J, van Mechelen W, Proper KI. Meta-analyses of workplace physical activity and dietary behaviour interventions on weight outcomes. Obesity Reviews. 2011;12(6):406-29.

CG-Obesity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Obesity.

Dishman 2009* - Dishman RK, DeJoy DM, Wilson MG, Vandenberg RJ. Move to Improve: A randomized workplace trial to increase physical activity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2009;36(2):133–41.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

ESMM NC - Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina (ESMM NC).

HEAL - Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL). Partnerships for healthy communities.

CDC-HWI StairWELL - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Healthier worksite initiative (HWI): StairWELL to better health.

Date Last Updated

Jan 18, 2014