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You Are What You Eat...Even at Work

You Are What You Eat...Even at Work

Companies trying to increase productivity should offer their employees more wellness programs, a new study finds.

Workers who ate healthful meals and exercised on a regular basis had better job performance and lower absenteeism, research from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University and the Center for Health Research at Healthways shows.

Employees who eat healthy all day long were 25 percent more likely to have higher job performance, the study found, while those who eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables at least four times a week were 20 percent more likely to be more productive.

In addition, employees who exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, were 15 percent more likely to have higher job performance.

Overall, absenteeism was 27 percent lower for those workers who ate healthy and regularly exercised and that their job performance was 11 percent higher than their peers who were obese, the study found.

Overweight workers experienced lower job performance and higher absenteeism, compared to those employees who suffer from depression and other chronic diseases or conditions.

"This latest study investigating the link between employee health, performance and productivity reinforces the business case for employers to provide comprehensive, evidence-based health management programs for their work force," said Jerry Noyce, president and CEO of HERO.

Carter Coberley, vice president of Health Research and Outcomes at Healthways, said more and more employers are defining individual well-being through the performance and productivity of their work force.

“Well-being is gaining recognition as an important measure that relates both to the quality of life of individuals as well as to financial measures that are important to business and government leaders," Coberley said.

"Well-being can also serve as an important business success metric through its demonstrated relationship to employee absence and job performance as measured in multiple large employers," he added.

The study was based on data from three geographically dispersed U.S. companies, representing 20,114 employees who completed a work-related survey each year from 2008 through 2010. It was published in this month's Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.