According to a new study, employees enrolled in a workplace intervention programme as a group lost more weight, showed greater reductions in fasting blood sugar and ate less fat than employees who received only written health guidelines for diabetes prevention.

"Adults spend a large portion of their time at work. This study shows that it is not only feasible to implement a comprehensive lifestyle intervention at the work site, it is an effective way to prevent disease," said lead author professor Carla Miller from Ohio State University.

The employees had been identified through a workplace screening as having prediabetes. This condition increases risk for type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Half of the employees participated in a 16-week group-based intervention that focused on reducing calories and fat to achieve weight loss, increasing regular exercise and attending weekly group discussions during lunch or after work.

The other half received usual care: a booklet of strategies for self-regulated weight loss. On average, the workplace intervention group lost about 5.5 percent of their body weight and kept it off for three months, compared to less than half a percent of weight lost by the control group.

The intervention group members also lowered their fasting glucose levels by more than double that of the control group. "Participants who attended more group discussion sessions and monitored their food and physical activity lost more weight, and weight loss is the primary way to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes," she said.

The research was published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

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