Fruit or sweets?
What are the barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and physical activity of office-based workers?
Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity have been identified as major contributors to morbidity and premature death. The working population spends the majority of their waking hours in the workplace, so the workplace setting is an ideal environment to improve healthy eating and physical activity of workers. Prasadie Rashmini Manawaduge Silva, a Master of Applied Management student at our Auckland International Campus, surveyed office-based workers in New Zealand about their eating behaviour and physical activity level in the workplace.
Analysis of the 106 quantitative survey results, mainly using descriptive statistics, indicated that the majority of office-based workers' workplace fruit intake is in line with the New Zealand health recommendations, but their sweets intake in the workplace is higher than the general health recommendations. In terms of physical activities, the majority of the office-based workers' occupation does not involve any vigorous-intensity or moderate-intensity activity during their work time and their sitting time is seven to eight hours in the workplace.
Prasadie also interviewed 13 of these participants. Thematic analysis revealed many barriers to healthy eating and physical activity in the workplace: excessive workload, work stress, nature of work, organisational culture, unavailability of healthy food options in the workplace, and lack of encouragement from the management. To promote healthy eating and physical activity in the workplace, Prasadie recommends that management should cultivate a positive organisational health climate by reducing workload, increasing work flexibility, providing compulsory breaks for stretching and exercise, longer lunchtimes for walking groups or fitness classes and increasing the availability of healthy food options in the workplace.
Image credit: Nenad Stojkovic. Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0. CC BY 2.0