Gatwick Study Suggests Workplace Plays Key Role in Employee Health

As Government data confirms that obesity will cost the UK more than £27 billion by 2015, a new project conducted among employees at Gatwick Airport, to be published in Complete Nutrition, reveals that workplace interventions really can make a positive impact on employee health.

Gatwick Airport conducted a 12-week work intervention trial among 35 shift-working security employees, which included advice on diet and physical activity, the provision of a free pedometer and motivational support during the 12-week project.

Our nutritionist partner Amanda Ursell shared a healthy eating plan including information such as including plenty of fruits and vegetables in the diet as well as foods known to enhance satiety.

Meanwhile, we provided simple healthy menu planning and plenty of lower calorie meal options in the staff restaurants, plus signposting to encourage healthier meal consumption. Gatwick Airport Occupational Health Department also gave employees support and advice throughout the 12 week project.

At the end of the project, we saw an average overall reduction of 3kg in body weight and significant reductions in body mass index and waist circumference. Blood glucose levels reduced by approximately 8%, while total cholesterol levels reduced from 5.0 mmol/L to 4.7 mmol/L. During the 12 week trial period, a participant diagnosed with type 2 diabetes successfully lowered his fasting glucose level to within the normal range. Employees also reported feeling happier and enjoyed improved sleep quality, self-efficacy and satisfaction in exercise and leisure activities.

Amanda Ursell, who co-authored the report, says: “This project shows that improvements to the food choices employees make at work, coupled with support and guidance from employers, could significantly reduce the size, health and wellbeing of our workforce. As the trend to eat out of home continues, this research shows a workplace intervention programme that offers a holistic approach to diet and physical exercise can positively influence an employee’s approach to health and aid their personal wellbeing.”

“We are delighted this project supports the efforts of workplace interventions like our ‘Passport to Health’ programme and the positive impact they have on the health and wellbeing of our employees. We’re committed to developing our intervention programmes in partnership with our caterers Charlton House to ensure our employees continue to benefit.”
– Grant Payne at Gatwick Airport Ltd

Dr Carrie Ruxton, who collaborated over the design, analysed data and co-authored the project, added: “We spend most of our waking hours at work, so workplace interventions have the capacity to make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of employees. Gatwick’s ‘Passport to Health’ programme is a perfect example of how an employer can positively influence employees’ approach to health and aid their personal wellbeing. More employers should follow their lead.”

This is a major opportunity for caterers and employers to support employees, align with Government ambitions and improve workplace performance. The findings present a fantastic opportunity for employers everywhere. Two key trends indicate we can play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of employees: firstly, the number of meals eaten outside the home is continuing to rise, and secondly, issues such as weight management remain at the top of the nation’s health agenda. Everyone benefits from success in this arena: improved health and wellbeing in employees is proven to reduce absenteeism and to improve productivity, mood and self-esteem within the workforce. We are constantly striving for innovative ways to reduce salt, fat, and calories and to provide a healthy, nutritious menu which contributes to a healthier workforce.