A proper diet is a key component to personal weight management and fitness. For a well-run workplace wellness program, it also can be an ongoing lifestyle approach that is important to help employees understand.
A new study backs up this approach.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is titled “Association of Changes in Diet Quality with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality.” The purpose of the study, according to the authors: “Few studies have evaluated the relationship between changes in diet quality over time and the risk of death.”
The results were stark.
The researchers report: “A 20-percentile increase in diet scores (indicating an improved quality of diet) was significantly associated with a reduction in total mortality of 8 to 17% with the use of the three diet indexes and a 7 to 15% reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease with the use of the Alternate Healthy Eating Index and Alternate Mediterranean Diet. Among participants who maintained a high-quality diet over a 12-year period, the risk of death from any cause was significantly lower — by 14% when assessed with the Alternate Healthy Eating Index score, 11% when assessed with the Alternate Mediterranean Diet score, and 9% when assessed with the DASH score — than the risk among participants with consistently low diet scores over time.”
As MedPage Today puts it: “People who maintained a high-quality diet over a 12-year period had a significantly lower risk of death than people whose diets were rated low.”
These findings support key goals of a well-run workplace wellness program: Encouraging (and educating) employees about the benefits of a good diet, not just for the short term, but over the long run.
Mercedes Sotos-Prieto, PhD, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the study’s lead author, told MedPage Today: “This is the first study to demonstrate that improvement in diet quality over time is associated with reduced risk of total and cardiovascular mortality. Previous studies have found that a higher diet quality score is associated with lower mortality, but none of those studies have examined dynamic changes in diet quality over time and subsequent risk of mortality.”
Dr. Sotos-Prieto continued: “Overall, our findings support the recommendations of the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines, which recommend several healthy eating patterns. It is not necessary to conform to a single dietary plan to achieve a healthy eating pattern.”