Workplace environment can improve eating habits

July 20, 1999

Work-site cancer control programs can significantly improve the nutritional habits of its participants, new research reports. Results from the Working Well Trial, the largest workplace cancer control trial in the United States, showed significant improvement of the nutritional environment at the 55 work-sites with cancer control programs and the eating habits of many of their 9,000 employees.

On three-year follow-up, workers at the sites reported they were getting healthier cafeteria food, greater access to fruit and vegetables, less fat, more fiber, and better labeling of the content of vending machine snacks.

"American cancer control programs have been criticized for focusing almost exclusively on changing individual health behaviors and neglecting opportunities to involve the physical and social environments of the work site," said Lois Biener, PhD, principal investigator of the trial. "But here is a trial that impacts on the work-site itself, to bring about individual changes in health behavior."

"The experimental interventions involved employee advisory boards who worked with researchers to identify ways to improve their co-workers' dietary habits," said Biener. "For example, they encouraged cafeteria managers and vending machine companies to include more low-fat, high-fiber snacks among their offerings and to put nutritional labels in prominent places. Competitions were held in which employees modified traditional family recipes to meet low-fat high-fiber criteria and shared them on the job at taste tests and recipe contests."

As a result, the trial changed the atmosphere at the work site. In addition to increased access to healthy food, employees experienced support from their co-workers and from management for trying to follow diets that placed them at lower risk for cancer.

The results were contrasted with outcomes in a comparison group of 56 work-sites with about 9,000 workers that did not have cancer-control programs. The report appears in the August issue of Health Education & Behavior.

Parallel efforts to change work-site smoking environments did not work out as well.

Both the intervention sites and control sites increased the restrictiveness of the smoking policies across the three-year span of the study. However, the results at the intervention work-sites merely kept pace with the changes in the comparison groups and society at large, where the smoke-free work environment was rapidly becoming the norm.
The study was supported by a cooperative agreement from the National Cancer Institute.

Health Education & Behavior, a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), publishes research on critical health issues for professionals in the implementation and administration of public health information programs. SOPHE is an international, non-profit professional organization that promotes the health of all people through education. For additional information, contact Elaine Auld at 202-408-9804.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong,, 202- 387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to