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eatfood Case Studies - NYC Department of Health
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In the fall of 2004, the NYC Department of Health hired EAT FOOD to play a key role in “Wellness at Work,” an unprecedented worksite-wellness initiative for the City of New York. This initiative was an extension of the Worksite Health Promotion Research Project, which was part of a three-year federal study funded by the Centers for Disease Control.

“Wellness at Work” had three main objectives. The first was to explore different ways in which the NYC Department of Health could support local employers in their efforts to design, implement, and evaluate worksite health-promotion and disease-prevention programs. The second objective was to measure the incremental benefits of high-intensity, comprehensive worksite health promotions compared to moderate-intensity programs. Finally, the project sought to assess program impact on improvements in health behaviors, self-reported biometric measures, health risks, healthcare utilization, absenteeism, and presenteeism.

EAT FOOD’s charge was to create and implement a multi-dimensional nutrition component for the initiative. For maximum impact, EF created a variety of touchpoints for NYC DOH and other municipal employees, including content and materials for the worksite websites; individualized nutrition programs (such as weight-loss and fitness classes); and individualized nutrition counseling. EAT FOOD also worked with foodservice operators to create healthy on-site catering, as well as provide healthy on-site vending options for employees.

Throughout the initiative, EF worked extensively with approximately 30,000 city employees throughout 14 participating worksites. The worksites included the Transport Workers Union Local 100, ConEdison, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, and Pace University.

In addition to the comprehensive program for the participating worksites, EAT FOOD created an “Eat Well at Work” program for DOH employees, which focused on overhauling department-wide food and beverage guidelines for all internal meetings and events. The employee beverage policy was approved and endorsed by Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden. In addition, EF worked directly with restaurants and takeout counters frequented by DOH employees, creating more streamlined, healthier menus from which employees could choose. The program was extended to the other 14 participating worksites as part of the overall initiative.

Research showed that “Wellness at Work” had a positive impact for both the participating employees and the employers. In addition to reducing health risks and improving health and behavior among participants, the program was perceived positively by employees. Financial measures showed that employee savings ranged from $76 to $376 per employee per year. In addition, absenteeism was reduced, and therefore produced a savings to employers. Finally, ConEdison was so inspired by the pilot program, it approached EAT FOOD in 2007 about creating an ongoing worksite-wellness initiative for over 14,000 employees.

EAT FOOD developed a multifaceted worksite-wellness program for the New York City Department of Health that included a variety of health-focused activities, ranging from better-for-you snack tastings to nutrition workshops.
Unilever YWCA of New York City WeightWatchers NYC Department of Health
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