Lose Weight At Work. Yes, Really.

A study from Tufts says workplace nutrition and behavior counseling could help you drop pounds.

Workplace eatingPhoto via Shutterstock.

You’ve likely seen the fairly depressing research out there about office health problems. But there’s a new study about workplace health, and this one actually contains good news.

In the study, published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University implemented a weight management program that combined dietary advice and behavioral counseling at two Boston-area workplaces. Over a six-month test period, participants, all of whom had body mass indexes that classified them as obese or overweight, followed a high-fiber, low-glycemic diet in conjunction with the researchers’ coaching. On average, the individuals lost 18 pounds over the course of the study and had lower cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and blood sugar.

Sai Krupa Das, senior author of the paper and a researcher in the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA, explains that offices are a great environment for weight loss. “Workplaces are a really wonderful setting for weight loss programs, and that’s because coworkers have a very good established relationship,” Das says. “There’s also the benefit of not having to set aside additional time for weight management; it’s something that can be built right into the work day.”

Das says a key element in the trial’s success was the combination of dietary advice and behavioral counseling. The two-pronged approach, she says, both educated participants about healthy eating and helped them manage cravings and overeating triggers. “The behavioral components are basically how to plan for triggers that you would normally respond to: stress or emotional eating, other kinds of social eating,” she explains. “It’s planning and preparing and understanding where exactly you would be eating or making the wrong choices and having all of those kind of behaviors be altered.”

Das says that the rising cost of employee healthcare makes preventative programs even more important. “Health care costs are now continuing to rise for employers, so it’s important for businesses to rigorously examine the wellness programs that are offered by them,” she says. “And employees should understand and recognize that when effective weight management programs are offered by their employers, it’s a wonderful opportunity for weight loss.”