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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UGA: Health Coaching Helps Workers Adopt Healthier Habits

Health and wellness programs are becoming more common in the workplace, as employers look to boost productivity and keep their workforce healthy and happy.

But with so many types of programs with varying success rates, how can employers be sure they’re investing in a program that works?

Researchers with the University of Georgia’s Workplace Health Group have some tips – encourage lifestyle changes and invest in health coaching.

The team, based in the University of Georgia College of Public Health, recently completed the second of two studies evaluating a worksite program called FUEL Your Life, which emphasizes making sustainable changes to eating and exercise habits to support overall health.

FUEL Your Life was adapted from a clinically proven lifestyle change program aimed at preventing diabetes. Beginning in 2011, the team worked to implement and evaluate FUEL Your Life for three city-county governments in Georgia.

The FUEL Your Life plan offered two methods of health coaching: in a group setting and one-on-one over the phone.

“Health coaching is used to help people manage their health conditions, set goals and stay accountable,” said Dr. Heather Padilla, assistant professor and researcher in the Workplace Health Group who worked on the FUEL Your Life studies.

A third control group completed a self-study of the program’s study guide, which covered information on healthy eating and exercise.

All participants lost weight, which was the main goal for the program, but those who received one-on-one coaching over the phone lost more.

In this latest evaluation, Dr. Padilla and her colleagues wanted to understand why. They found that employees who received phone coaching read more of the study guide and adopted more of the healthy behaviors encouraged in the program.

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