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Worksite obesity prevention interventions

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Educators Employers & Businesses Local Government State Government Healthcare Professionals & Advocates Nonprofit Leaders Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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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

Increased physical activity
Improved weight status
Increased fruit & vegetable consumption
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 (Verweij 2011, CG-Obesity, Dishman 2009), and fruit and vegetable consumption among employees (Verweij 2011).

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).


United States

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).


The Healthier Wisconsin Worksite Initiative, a collaborative effort of the Office of the Governor, the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health and the Department of Health and Family Services’ Nutrition and Physical Activity Program, aims to improve nutrition and increase physical activity within the adult working population through the development of worksite wellness programs (WI DHS-Worksite).

Implementation Resources

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. Accessed on December 10, 2015
NYS DOH-Healthy meetings - New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH). Guidelines for healthy meetings. Accessed on February 1, 2017
Physical Activity @ Work - Alberta Center for Active Living. Physical activity @ work. Accessed on March 15, 2016
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. Accessed on November 18, 2015
WI DHS-Worksite Wellness - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Worksite wellness resource kit. Accessed on November 20, 2017

Citations - Description

CG-Obesity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Obesity. Accessed on March 9, 2017

Citations - Evidence

CG-Obesity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Obesity. Accessed on March 9, 2017
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. Accessed on January 14, 2016
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. Accessed on November 17, 2015

Citations - Implementation

CDC-HWI StairWELL - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Healthier worksite initiative (HWI): StairWELL to better health. Accessed on March 4, 2016
ESMM NC - Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina (ESMM NC). Accessed on December 15, 2015
HEAL - Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL). Partnerships for healthy communities. Accessed on February 4, 2016
WI DHS-Worksite - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Worksite wellness. Accessed on January 28, 2016

Page Last Updated

January 18, 2014

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