Lead researcher Michael Benedict from University of Cincinnati College of Medicine has revealed that employer-sponsored programs for weight loss are at least partially effective at helping workers. He said that since most employed adults spend nearly one-half of their waking hours at work, such programs could have enormous potential in making a dent in the obesity epidemic. Benedict and colleague David Arterburn, M.D. reviewed 11 studies published since 1994.
Most involved education and counselling to improve diet and increase physical activity and lasted anywhere from two months to 18 months.
Forty-six percent of the studies involved low-intensity interventions, 18 percent were moderate intensity and 36 percent were high intensity.
They found participants lost an average of 2.2 pounds to almost 14 pounds, while non-participants ranged from a loss of 1.5 pounds to a gain of 1.1 pounds.
"People who participate in these programs can lose weight but we aren't really sure what happens after that," said Benedict.
Various studies have shown that that other worksite health interventions such as those aimed at smoking cessation and blood pressure reduction benefit employers financially, usually within only two to three years,
"Worksites have a tremendous potential to have a public health impact, but more research is needed," he added.
The systematic review appears in the July-August issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.