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The Importance of Nutrition in the Workplace

Good Nutrition in the Workplace, nutrition, employee wellness, workplace health, workplace wellness programs, healthcare costs, employee well-beingIs Nutrition Important to Your Company?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health problems resulting from unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are costing the United States economy over $115 billion a year. In fact, unhealthy eating and inactivity is the second largest cause of preventable death in the U.S. behind tobacco use. Why is this important to employers?

This cost is increasingly borne by employers, who see their insurance costs and workers’ compensation premiums rise while productivity declines. Unhealthy workers require more medical care, take more sick days, and are less productive on the job. On the other hand, this epidemic can be preventable without expensive drugs or increased medical expenses. Improving nutrition and increasing activity can help prevent many serious health problems like heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Your employees spend the majority of their waking hours at work. If good nutrition is not focused on or made available at work, it is nearly impossible for them to be healthy.

An example of what the lack of nutrition and activity in the workday can look like…

Look at what the average working adult would have to do in order to meet the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, if they don’t consume them during their workday.nutrition, fruits and vegetables, workplace health, employee well-being

The same is true for physical activity. If your employees are spending the majority of their workday at the computer and not encouraged to take active breaks throughout the day, they will have a hard time reaching the daily recommended amount of activity. In order to accumulate the 10,000 steps a day recommended by experts, sedentary workers would have to spend majority of their evenings racking up steps. If they are sedentary most of the day and getting little to no nutrition, employees are not likely to have energy to do much when they are off the clock.

What can employers do to promote improved nutrition and well-being?

  1. Make healthful foods available. Work with outside vendors to improve food quality of cafeteria and vending machine options. We have worked with a number of our clients to help them improve their campus nutrition. SB Wellness has a registered dietitian on staff that can consult with your vendors and help improve what is made available to your workforce.
  2. Subsidize healthy foods and consider up-charging unhealthy options. Maine sporting goods manufacturer L.L. Bean, experimented with encouraging healthy eating by subsidizing healthy foods and funding the subsidy with a premium on high fat foods, such as French fries. After two months, they found a 50% increase in the sale of healthy foods and a corresponding 50% decrease in the sale of high fat foods.
  3. Put in a company meeting policy involving food choices. Don’t allow junk foods and high-fat meals at company meetings and events. Instead offer fresh fruits, vegetables and nutrient-dense meals and snacks. You can’t promote healthy behavior change and communicate a completely different message through your actions.
  4. Inspire change through education and coaching. Provide lunch and learn seminars that teach your employees the importance of good nutrition and how it relates to their health and well-being. Regular onsite programming like one-on-one wellness coaching and dietitian visits can support individual needs and ongoing motivation for healthy behavior change.

worksite wellness, corporate wellness specialists, wellness consultant, workplace ergonomics, employee safetyKatie Normand is Vice-President of SB Wellness Group. SB Wellness has been helping businesses develop customized solutions for wellness programs with proven success for more than 20 years. We have helped numerous companies with all of the above initiatives and more for their employees. From planning and implementation to screening and data collection, we orchestrate each stage of the wellness development process from start to finish. Find out more at www.sbwellness.com.

 

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