A healthy lifestyle intervention program administered at the workplace and developed by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health significantly reduces risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, according to a study reported in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The program was well-received by participants at Bayer Corp., who lost weight and increased the amount of physical activity they got each day, when compared with a control group in the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
“Health care expenditures associated with diabetes are spiraling, causing widespread concern, particularly for employers who worry about employee health and productivity,” said lead author Dr. M. Kaye Kramer, assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s department of epidemiology and director of the school’s Diabetes Prevention Support Center. “This leads to an interest in workplace health promotion; however, there are very few evidence-based programs that actually demonstrate improvement in employee health. This study found that our program not only improves health, but also that employees really like it.”
This demonstration program is based on the U.S. Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a national study that found people at risk for diabetes who lost a modest amount of weight through diet and exercise sharply reduced their chances of developing diabetes, outperforming people who took a diabetes drug instead.
Dr. Kramer and colleagues built on the DPP to create a group-based program that puts the findings into practice, called Group Lifestyle Balance™. The program is divided into 22 sessions over a one-year period and aimed at helping people make lifestyle changes to improve health. The sessions can be done as a group with a lifestyle coach or through a DVD coupled with brief weekly phone or, in certain cases, email consultations with the lifestyle coach. The option of the DVD with lifestyle coach support not only served as the main intervention option for those employees who traveled or who did not want to participate in the program in a group venue but also offered a valuable replacement for employees who chose to participate via group setting but had to miss an occasional session.
A total of 89 employees at Bayer Corp. in Robinson Township, Pa., who were at risk for diabetes or heart disease were enrolled in the demonstration program in the fall of 2010 and followed for 18 months.
Over the course of a year, participants lost an average of five percent of their body weight (10 pounds), shrunk their waistlines by about two inches and brought down the levels of fat and sugar in their blood – all measures that reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. They also increased their physical activity by almost twofold.
For more information, visit http://www.upmc.com/media/NewsReleases/2015/Pages/kriska-group-lifestyle-balance.aspx.