Worksite physical activity interventions and obesity: a review of European studies (the HOPE project)

Anne Vuillemin, Cyrus Rostami, Lea Maes, Eveline Van Cauwenberghe, Frank J Van Lenthe, Johannes Brug, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Jean-Michel Oppert
Obesity Facts 2011, 4 (6): 479-88

OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to review the effectiveness of physical activity promotion interventions in the worksite setting in Europe in order to identify those studies that had measured obesity-related outcomes and to evaluate how external validity of the findings had been assessed.

METHODS: We conducted a review of studies conducted in Europe, published up to December 2009. We assessed levels of evidence regarding effectiveness and analysed external validity using the RE-AIM framework.

RESULTS: Studies included (n = 33) were divided in 6 intervention categories. Moderate evidence of effectiveness was found for physical fitness outcomes with exercise training interventions and for physical activity outcomes with active commuting interventions. There was no or inconclusive evidence for obesity-related outcomes for all intervention categories. For external validity, elements receiving the least attention (<20%) were representativeness of participants, setting-level inclusion/exclusion criteria and representativeness, characteristics regarding intervention staff, implementation of intervention, costs, long-term effects and programme sustainability.

CONCLUSIONS: Active commuting and exercise training appear as promising approaches to promote physical activity or fitness in the workplace. The effect of interventions on obesity-related outcomes remains to be further investigated. There is a need to better report elements of generalizability and dissemination for translation into practice of worksite physical activity interventions.

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