Environmental Support | Nutrition Interventions

Environmental support for nutrition1-4

Environment support provides a worksite physically designed to encourage good health. Several promising approaches for changing the nutrition environment are being studied.

Workplace availability of healthy foods can affect employee nutrition

  • Clinical nutrition counseling includes instructions on selecting healthy foods when eating away from home. Providing healthy dietary choices at the worksite in vending machines, cafeterias, snack bars, common areas, meetings, and company-sponsored events such as holiday parties reinforces this counseling
  • If employees do not have access at the worksite to fresh fruit and vegetables through cafeterias or vending machines, establish a garden market where local farmers and growers can come to the worksite and sell fresh produce
  • Healthy food options should be appropriately labeled or marked for easy identification, which could include nutritional content
  • Marketing techniques at the point of sale can be adapted to promote healthy diet and food choices.  This approach, called social marketing, includes “the four P’s”
    • Products that are healthy and appealing to employees
    • Placement of healthy foods in easily accessible locations such as vending machines
    • Promotion strategies to inform employees and encourage them to select these foods
    • Price the foods at levels that encourage employees to purchase them

Lactation Support Program

  • A basic lactation support program includes providing a breastfeeding employee time and a location where she can privately, comfortably, and safely express milk during the workday. Environmental support components include creating designated lactation room(s) that are clean, private, comfortable spaces (non-bathroom) that do not have to be large or expensive to establish; providing high-quality breast pumps; and refrigeration to store expressed breast milk.

1.  Devine CM, Nelson JA, Chin N, Dozier A, Fernandez ID. “Pizza is cheaper than salad”: assessing workers’ views for an environmental food intervention. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Nov;15 Suppl 1:57S-68S.

2.  Engbers LH, van Poppel MN, Chin A Paw M, van Mechelen W. The effects of a controlled worksite environmental intervention on determinants of dietary behavior and self-reported fruit, vegetable and fat intake. BMC Public Health. 2006 Oct 17;6:253.

3.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General; 2001.

4.  Pratt CA, Lemon SC, Fernandez ID, Goetzel R, Beresford SA, French SA, Stevens VJ, Vogt TM, Webber LS. Design characteristics of worksite environmental interventions for obesity prevention. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Sep;15(9):2171-2180.