workplace wellness sugar

Workplace Wellness Programs Can Use Heart Diet Guidelines to Help Reduce Sugar Intake

We have been reporting recently on American Heart Association studies and reports that tie healthier diets to better overall health (including heart health):

  • WWH post: A new report from the American Heart Association agrees — and says a lot more about the connection between skipping meals and health. The study provides actionable information for a well-run workplace wellness program and ways to help remind employees about healthy eating.
  • WWH post: “A new study from the American Heart Association reports that ‘eating a diet lacking in healthy foods and/or high in unhealthy foods was linked to more than 400,000 deaths from heart and blood vessel diseases in 2015, according to an analysis presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions.’”

As National Nutrition Month ends, we focus again on AHA findings… this time around sugar.

A new study in the European Journal of Nutrition reports that “High added sugar consumption has been associated with the development of metabolic syndrome (MetS). The American Heart Association (AHA) diet is designed to prevent and treat MetS; however, it remains unclear whether the AHA diet is effective on decreasing added sugar consumption. The aim of our study was to evaluate the effect of the AHA dietary counselling on added sugar consumption among participants with MetS.”

The study, titled “Effect of AHA dietary counselling on added sugar intake among participants with metabolic syndrome,” found that:

  • “After 1-year dietary counselling, intake of added sugars decreased by 23.8 g/day;
  • “Intake of nonalcoholic beverages dropped from the leading contributor of added sugar intake to number 7”
  • “The Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) score increased by 5.4 (95% CI 2.9, 8.0)”

Incredibly, however, sugar intake for 48% of participants ” still exceeded the recommendation.” And if you want to understand one of the culprits, look to the start of the day: “After the 1-year dietary counselling, breakfast became the major resource of added sugar intake (33.3%); the proportion of added sugar intake from snacks decreased from 25.8%.”

Bottom line for well-run workplace wellness plans: A focus on sugar reduction likely needs to be continual, aggressive, and constructive — results may be challenging to maintain.

As the study concludes: “Although the consumption of added sugars in participants with MetS decreased after the 1-year AHA dietary counselling, added sugar intake from majority of participants still exceeds recommended limits. Actions of successful public health strategies that focus on reducing added sugar intake are needed.”