Workplace Studies: GEICO Employees Improve Health Dramatically with Low-Fat Vegetarian Diet
The Physicians Committee's two GEICO workplace studies show that office workers can lose weight, lower blood pressure, and reduce absenteeism if their employer provides healthy low-fat vegetarian meals in the company cafeteria.
GEICO I Study
In the first 22-week study, GEICO employees following a low-fat vegetarian diet in the worksite study lost about 11 pounds on average, placing them at lower risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. They also missed fewer hours at work. At least two individual participants lost more than 40 pounds. Control group participants following an omnivorous diet gained weight and experienced a rise in blood pressure. In addition to diet changes, the intervention group benefited from cooking demonstrations and other educational sessions led by doctors and dietitians.
As the study authors explain, “Employers may be motivated to provide obesity-related interventions, because they often assume financial liability for health outcomes and costs. Epidemiologic studies have shown that populations consuming low-fat, plant-based diets reduce body weight, improve plasma lipid concentrations, reverse coronary atherosclerosis, and improve type 2 diabetes management.”
GEICO II Study
In the second 18-week intervention study, GEICO employees who dined on vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains reduced their intake of calories, fat, and cholesterol while increasing their intake of protective nutrients, including fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium.
Participants in the study lost an average of 10 pounds, lowered LDL cholesterol by 13 points, and improved blood sugar control. By providing weekly “lunch and learn” meetings about weight loss and disease prevention; demonstrating healthful cooking techniques; offering grocery store tours; and guiding online discussion forums, dietitians stayed connected with close to 300 employees from 10 regional offices throughout the country.