Environmental interventions for altering eating behaviours of employees in the workplace: a systematic review

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Abstract

Environmental, or ‘choice-architecture’, interventions aim to change behaviour by changing properties/contents of the environment and are commonly used in the workplace to promote healthy behaviours in employees. The present review aimed to evaluate and synthesize the evidence surrounding the effectiveness of environmental interventions targeting eating behaviour in the workplace. A systematic search identified 8157 articles, of which 22 were included in the current review. All included studies were coded according to risk of bias and reporting quality and were classified according to the emergent typology of choice-architecture interventions. More than half of included studies (13/22) reported significant changes in primary measures of eating behaviour (increased fruit/veg consumption, increased sales of healthy options and reduction in calories purchased). However, only one study produced a small significant improvement in weight/body mass index. Many studies had a high or unknown risk of bias; reporting of interventions was suboptimal; and the only trial to measure compensatory behaviours found that intervention participants who ate less during the intervention ate more out with the workplace later in the day. Hence, we conclude that more rigorous, well-reported studies that account for compensatory behaviours are needed to fully understand the impact of environmental interventions on diet and importantly on weight/body mass index outcomes.

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