Objective: “Images of a Healthy Worksite” aims to provide easy access to healthful foods and to reduce sedentarism at the worksite—to prevent weight gain. Formative research for the nutrition intervention component was aimed at gaining a broad understanding of the sociocultural role of food and eating among workers and worker perspectives on socially feasible and culturally acceptable environmental intervention strategies.
Research Methods and Procedures: Using an adapted PRECEDE health planning model, we conducted ecological, educational, environmental, and administrative assessments at the worksite. Through 15 in-depth interviews, five focus groups, and community mapping at two sites with 79 administrators, managers, workers, and food service personnel (51% men, 82% white), we assessed workers' perspectives on physical, sociocultural, economic, and policy environments. Data were coded for predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing factors related to intervention strategies in vending, cafeteria, catering, and informal food environments. After classification for reach, intensity, and sustainability, objectives and evaluation plans were developed for each highly ranked strategy.
Results: Key sociocultural factors affecting food and eating included: stress-related eating in a downsizing workplace, enthusiasm for employer-sponsored weight gain prevention efforts that respect personal privacy, and the consequences of organizational culture on worker access to the food and eating environment. Workers supported healthier cafeteria and catering options, bringing healthful foods closer, and labeling of healthful options.
Discussion: We provide a practical and systematic approach to formative research and assess the interrelatedness of the physical, policy, economic, and sociocultural factors that affect environmental worksite interventions to prevent weight gain among employees.