Environmental Changes to Control Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Manufacturing Companies

Brehm, Bonnie J.; Gates, Donna M.; Singler, Mary; Succop, Paul A.; D'Alessio, David A.
May 2011
American Journal of Health Promotion;May/Jun2011, Vol. 25 Issue 5, p334
Academic Journal
Purpose: To determine the effects of an environmental intervention on obesity, disease risk factors, and dietary intake in an employee population. Design: Randomized controlled community trial. Setting: Eight manufacturing companies in Kentucky with ∼ 150 to 350 employees each. Subjects: Randomly selected employees. Intervention: Multicomponent environmental intervention that included employee advisory committees, point-of-decision prompts, walking paths, cafeteria/vending changes, and educational materials. Measures: Height; weight; body fat; blood pressure; fasting lipids, glucose and insulin; and dietary intake were assessed prior to and 3, 6, and 12 months after initiation of the intervention. Analysis: Mixed-model repeat-measure analyses of covariance were used to analyze data collected over the study period. Categorical data were analyzed in contingency tables. A p value of. 05 was used to judge statistical significance. Results: There were no intervention effects for outcome variables, with the exception of lower intake of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol in the intervention group compared to the control group. Over the course of the study, changes in anthropometry and biomeasures were similar in both groups. Conclusions: Findings indicate that subtle environmental changes alone may not impact employees' weight and health; however, such institutional-level approaches may be essential to support healthy lifestyle habits that are initiated by more intensive efforts. Academic researchers should continue to partner with employers and, practitioners to develop, implement, and evaluate innovative health promotion strategies including environmental interventions.


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