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February/March 2010 (vol. 06/5)

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Research Plus

Workplace health promotion

There is considerable interest in workplace health promotion initiatives to address unhealthy lifestyles and improve overall health – but do they work? This systematic review of evidence found 31 randomised controlled trials (18 high quality) of interventions to increase physical activity and/or improve the diet of workers. Most of the 1,200 studies in the initial literature trawl were rejected ‘due to a lack of a control group or because the study did not describe the outcome measures sought’. The study found no evidence that workplace lifestyle interventions have a positive effect on cholesterol (total, HDL or LDL), blood glucose, body weight/BMI or blood pressure. However, there is strong evidence that they have a beneficial effect on overall body fat – a major risk factor for CVD. There is also strong evidence that programmes targeted at workers at higher risk of CVD have a positive impact on body weight. At-risk populations benefit more from the interventions than mixed ones.

Groeneveld IF, Proper KI et al. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health 2010; online first: 12 January. http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=2891

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Occupational Health at Work February/March 2010 (vol. 06/5) pp41