Healthy at work? Maybe not.

The 2017 Food & Health study has found that most Americans remain confused about "healthy" food and overall nutrition. 80% of Americans reported finding conflicting information about which foods to avoid and which to eat, which in turn decreases confidence in their own dieting decisions. When respondents were asked to link a food or nutrient to a desired health benefit, a mere 45% of respondents were able to do so. In addition, most respondents admitted they're more likely to ask for dietary advice from a friend or family member, which is not surprising when you consider how sensitive this topic might be to some.

With the lightning-quick response time Google, Siri and Cortana now provide, how can we possibly be missing the mark so deeply? As millions are invested in employee wellness programs across the nation, how can we be sure that the right information gets through, and the wrong doesn't?

In my opinion, we can address this problem by changing who delivers the information, and how that information is delivered. Keep reading and I'll explain what I mean.

Remember the respondents that said they prefer to consult family & friends? That same group also admitted that although they prefer to reach out to their friends for guidance, they do view nutrition & health professionals as their best source for dietary guidance.

For me, there is an obvious conclusion.

Nutrition & diet is a sensitive topic

and one which we would prefer to talk to our friends about.

The reason why becomes more clear when you look at other situations and compare. For example, would you consult your high-school buddy for law advice, or a lawyer? Would you trust an electrician to replace your engine, or a mechanic?

Now think of it this way; has anyone ever made you feel embarrassed for consulting a mechanic when your car is broken? Of course not. Has anyone ever made you, or someone you know, feel embarrassed about their weight?

Negative stigma is a powerful, sometimes irreversible state of mind that can not easily be erased. Add the commercialization of one size fits all diets into the mix and a huge source of misinformation(sorry internet, I'm looking at you) and you've got a cocktail with a killer hangover.

The solution?

  • Teach and communicate that doing something for yourself, like consulting a professional to live a healthier life, is nothing to be embarrassed about.

  • Start celebrating the ambition & dedication it takes to wade through the myriad of barely-food items that fill the grocery stores.

  • Realize that obesity is a disease, best treated by medical professionals. Provide on-site health clinics, benefits with options and most of all the emotional support that's needed to change your employees lives for the better.

  • Help your employees find motivation to change within themselves. Don't narrow your focus to solely financial incentives.

  • Finally, BE REAL. Your employee is not a drone, is not void of emotion, and is not only focused on money.

By creating a new "normal" for your employees and allowing them to feel unbridled in their pursuit of a healthy life, I believe those willing to change will do so. Leading a horse to water and making them drink is easiest when the horse is thirsty.

All the best,
Colin Sparks
Senior Marketing & Sales Manager
Smart for Life