Attention all employees: Live longer

Imagine your boss coming to your cubicle and, in the course of dumping yet another assignment on your desk, says, “Oh, and one more thing: Eat more fruits and veggies. You’ll thank me for it. Carry on!” A more subtle version of that scenario is unfolding at three universities in B.C., thanks to research by Carolyn Gotay, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health. An expert in cancer prevention, Dr. Gotay is leading “Be Well at Work,” a three-year experiment aimed at getting people to live healthier lives by winning their hearts and minds at the workplace. The three research sites — UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, and Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops — are using three different programs to encourage employees at those institutions to pursue better nutrition and more exerise. One program is focused on individuals, another is focused on group activities, and a third is a blend of the two. The general premise makes sense, given how employees are such a captive audience — more than two-thirds of Canadians spend 60 percent or more of their time at work. The data will come through health risk questionnaires that employees will be asked to complete at various points during the campaigns. It will be interesting to see whether our bosses are any better than our mothers at getting us to eat our veggies. Read more about “Be Well at Work” in UBC Medicine magazine.

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