“This novel workplace strategy was completely automated and did not require that people take time away from work to participate, making it ideal for busy hospital employees,” explains lead author Anne N. Thorndike, MD, MPH, an investigator in the Division of General Internal Medicine at MGH and an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Participants in the intervention group increased their healthy cafeteria food purchases to a greater extent than participants in the control group. They also purchased fewer calories per day. These differences were observed during the one-year intervention as well as during a year of additional assessments. There were no differences between the groups in terms of weight change at 12 or 24 months, however.
“Few if any prior workplace studies have been able to make sustained changes in dietary choices of employees,” says Thorndike. “This study provides evidence that food purchasing data can be leveraged for delivering health promotion interventions at scale.”