Workplace weight-loss program illustrates promise, difficulty of overcoming obesity

· 2 min read

Workplace weight-loss program illustrates promise, difficulty of overcoming obesity

Pocket Science: Exploring the 'What,' 'So what' and 'Now what' of Husker research

Welcome to Pocket Science: a glimpse at recent research from Husker scientists and engineers. For those who want to quickly learn the “What,” “So what” and “Now what” of Husker research.


The attention and time that health care workers invest in the well-being of patients can come at the expense of their own. Research suggests that U.S. health care workers become obese at rates even higher than the 38% of American adults overall.

So what?


Nebraska’s Weiwen Chai, Jennifer McAtee and colleague Martha Nepper evaluated the effectiveness of a 16-week workplace weight-loss program among health care employees. The program included both group-based activities and individual appointments focused on increasing physical activity, improving nutrition and adopting other health-conscious behaviors.

The 41 study participants lost an average of 13 pounds, or 5.6% of their weight. Blood pressure and blood-glucose levels decreased — supporting prior research that even mild weight loss can lower risks of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes — with sleep quality also improving.

Follow-ups with 27 of the participants found that they regained an average of 8 pounds in the six months following the program’s conclusion.

Now what?

A true experiment, with half of study participants randomly assigned to a control condition, would help clarify how much of the weight loss stemmed directly from the program. The post-program weight gain also highlights the need to address the sustainability of weight-loss efforts, the researchers said.

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