Modern life style and rapid technological advancement Â bring significant changes to every sphere of life including the food industry and, consequently, our eating habits. Unhealthy diet combined with people carrying out far less exercise than ever before leads to the dramatic raise of obesity rates in the USA. Nowadays, many institutions understand the necessity of stopping the obesity plague as it is sometimes referred to, and suggest specific measures to be taken. Thus, the aim of this paper is to explore the effectiveness of one of the obesity prevention programs that are aimed at decreasing the level of obesity amongst the Americans.
Analysis of the Program
North Carolina Health Smart Worksite Wellness Toolkit: Eat Smart is a part of CDC’s LEAN Works! obesity prevention project. It is created in order to incorporate healthy eating behaviors amongst Americans to improve the nation’s physical and mental wellbeing, quality of life, and economic outcomes for the country.
It is important for the developers of this program to address obesity in the workplace because they strive for improving the quality of life for people. Since people spend almost every day at work, that is the right place to encourage them to run a healthy life style. Other reasons for suggesting this program to be implemented in the workplaces are the need to prevent employees’ heart-related diseases that might affect their job performance, attendance, and increase the financial pressure put on the government. Additionally, it is one of the ways to increase employees’ job satisfaction which would increase their productivity and motivation.
The program involves other stakeholders in the community such as restaurants, schools, cafeterias, and other dining venues that create opportunities for people to choose healthy food options. One of the strategies is to offer healthy vending options. Moreover, the program states that every company or school must have an on-site cafeteria located within a convenient distance from the workplace that would provide a variety of healthy food options.
Another possibility is to collaborate with a local restaurant where employees usually have their lunch. The collaboration would mean encouraging the restaurant to offer more healthy food options and excluding the majority of unhealthy food from the menu. Participation of a local restaurant in the obesity prevention program can be also supported by qualified professionals conducting analysis on the menu items and suggesting certain improvements.
Furthermore, local farmers can also be involved in cooperation within the program by employers suggesting them to arrange on-site farmer’s market. This idea would solve the problem with employees sourcing fresh fruit and vegetable. The on-site farmers markets can be arranged during lunch breaks, before or after work at a suitable location either at the worksite which can be a parking lot, playground, etc. or somewhere in the neighborhood.
Other strategies include organizing an Honor System Snack Rack where healthy snacks will be offered at lower prices than in vending machines. Another option for encouraging employees to make their own food is to assemble a meal break room. Moreover, posters with relevant information regarding healthy eating should be distributed throughout the worksite.
The statistics showing the number of people suffering from obesity has overcome all the expectations. It demonstrates that more than 35% of adults and up to 17% of children are obese in the USA. According to Trust for America’s Health, 50% of adults will be considered obese by 2030 in the USA. However, children form a particularly vulnerable segment of the population since their obesity rates have tripled comparatively to their parent’s generation. Thus, the developers of the program are also concerned with childhood obesity. In order to encourage good eating habits and prevent obesity in children, it is suggested to have family meals to teach children about nutrition and encourage them to choose healthy food over fast food. Â Â Â
The program suggests various strategies to motivate employees to make better health choices. It suggests some formal and informal policies to address the issue. For instance, it suggests holding some activities on workplaces like a â€œBrown bag dayâ€, â€œBrown bag picnicâ€, handing out leaflets about good nutrition, organizing a cooking class, exchanging recipes, etc. Moreover, the importance of exercising and fitness should not be ignored.
The idea of a â€œBrown bag dayâ€ is to encourage employees to bring homemade lunches to work instead of buying fast food. The meals are recommended to include low-calorie food and smaller portions than usual. Additionally, a cooking class can be organized during a lunch break in order to demonstrate some ideas of healthy food that can be easily cooked at home. This activity might be very useful for people who do not have much time to prepare food and who do not know much about cooking. When people are showed that sometimes it is easier and quicker to cook something healthy rather than unhealthy, they might change their eating habits.
Exchanging recipes with each other can be another successful strategy for promoting cooking activity amongst employees. It can be arranged through creating a board where anyone can suggest a new recipe of a healthy meal. The recipes can be added every week or with different periodicity for employees to copy their favorite ones into their personal cookbooks.
Thus, the effectiveness of the selected program can be rated as high in case all the recommendations are followed precisely. The ideas suggested as a part of the obesity prevention program enable people to learn more about healthy food, encourages them to changes their eating habits, and increases approachability of healthy food near the worksite.Â