Adults in the United States spend more than half of their waking hours at work, giving employers a unique opportunity to impact the health and wellness of their employees. In a public health climate of a growing health crisis and mounting health care costs, more attention needs to be given to eating healthfully and staying active, especially around a busy work schedule. By offering PCRM’s Food for Life: Employee Wellness Program, employers can lead the way to facilitating an office culture of health and wellness that employees can carry into their lives at home.
Why Focus on Nutrition?
Making the right food choices is key to the prevention and survival of chronic diseases and health conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
One out of two men and one out of three women in the United States will develop cancer in their lifetimes. With more than 12 million cancer survivors in the United States and many more wishing to prevent getting the disease, people are highly interested in ways to fight cancer. But many are unaware of the link between diet and cancer. Research has shown that approximately 40 percent of cancer risk is related to dietary choices. PCRM’s Food for Life: Cancer Project nutrition and cooking classes unlocks the power of proper nutrition to fight cancer.
In the United States, 26 million adults have type 2 diabetes, and one-fourth are unaware that they have the disease. Uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to complications including blindness and kidney failure. Fortunately, research has shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented and treated with a healthful diet and physical activity. The Food for Life: Diabetes Initiative nutrition and cooking classes reveal the proper dietary plan for combatting the disease.
Two out of every three adults in the United States is overweight or obese and the direct medical costs associated with obesity totals $147 billion. Faced with the physical and financial toll of our nation’s expanding waistlines, the need for lifestyle changes to improve our health is greater than ever. PCRM’s Food for Life: Kickstart Your Health nutrition and cooking classes step through adopting the optimal diet for maintaining a healthy weight and fighting diet related chronic diseases.
A Physicians Committee study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, American Journal of Health Promotion, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, and Public Health Nutrition found that companies that offer employees a low-fat plant-based diet in the office can help workers lose weight and improve diabetes.
The 292 employees from 10 Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) sites across the country were randomly selected to either adopt a low-fat vegan diet with weekly group support or make no diet changes for 18 weeks. The participants at the intervention sites agreed to follow a low-fat vegan diet, which consisted of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits, with no caloric or serving size restrictions. The cafeterias at intervention GEICO sites added at least one low-fat vegan menu option to every meal, and participants were provided with weekly lunch hour classes held at their worksite for the extent of the study. These participants were also instructed not to stray from their normal exercise patterns in order to strictly focus the study on dietary modifications. The individuals at control GEICO sites had no dietary changes, no guidance, and no additional options were served in their workplace cafeterias.
Those who followed a low-fat vegan diet lost an average of 9.5 pounds, significantly decreased total and LDL cholesterol, and, in individuals with diabetes, decreased hemoglobin A1c by an average of 0.7 percentage points.
Food for Life Employee Wellness Program Format
The program consists of the same elements proven to be successful in the GEICO study and the Food for Life nutrition and cooking classes:
Weekly sessions for workers consisting of nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, food samples, and supportive group discussions
Support for the employer’s food service provider to incorporate healthful food options into the menu
Guidance on healthful dining out choices if there is no employer food service provider
"In just seven weeks, I am much healthier and have been able to eliminate medication for sleeping, depression, and high blood pressure ... I have recommended the class to several people."
– Katherine Bishop, Matsu Regional Medical Center
“We have seen such a huge difference in only two weeks, it is amazing. I am so excited! I have lost almost four pounds already, my kids ask for seconds, our grocery bill has dropped, I'm waking up before my alarm, and I've been so much more focused!”
– Tiffany Bryan, Unity Church
To learn more about PCRM’s Food for Life: Employee Wellness Program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-686-2210.