Number 8: Do New Physical Activity Guidelines Refute Classic Advice?

December 15, 2018 in Top 10 2018



True or False?

  1. No amount of exercise will make a difference if you sit 8 hours a day.
  2. The risks of trying to get all your exercise into one day per week outweigh the potential benefits.
  3. Benefits of physical activity like better sleep, reduced anxiety, improved cognition, reduced blood pressure, and improved insulin sensitivity take weeks or even months to appear. You can’t expect immediate results.

If you answered “True” to any of these statements, and they are typical of the kind of advice your wellness program participants receive, it’s probably time to update your knowledge. Check out the 2nd edition of Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Its release is 8th on my list of Top 10 Wellness Stories of 2018.

(¯`·._) (¯`·._)

Did you miss the full list of Top 10 Wellness Stories? They are:

  1. Food Nudger Gets Caught with a Hand in the Cookie Jar
  2. Illinois Gets Its Fill of Noise as Wellness Study Sparks a Squabble
  3. Civility at Work: A Matter of Good Health
  4. West Virginia Teachers Give Outcomes-Based Wellness an “F”
  5. Getting to Work on Mental Health
  6. Musculoskeletal Disorder Comes of Age
  7. Our Quest for Employer Role Models Needs a Better Search
  8. If Uncle Sam Drops New Physical Activity Guidelines, but No One Hears Them…
  9. Good News! Everything We Know About Obesity and Nutrition is Wrong!
  10. Inclusiveness: California Corporations Get All Aboard

Searching for Realistic Role Models

December 10, 2018 in Top 10 2018

Searching for better role modelsWe’re often advised not to compare our lives to what we see from our friends on Facebook and Instagram. The theory goes: People tend to expose on social media only the best, happiest facets of their lives, and comparing our own ordinary existence to the world-traveling, fancy-food-eating filtered glimpses we get of Continue reading »

New Attention on Mental Health at Work

December 8, 2018 in Top 10 2018, Uncategorized

mental healthThis is the 5th in my Top 10 Wellness Stories of 2018.

Not long ago, I attended a panel discussion in which an audience member asked the panelists what their organizations were doing to address mental health. No one had anything to say other than, “We offer an EAP.” A wave of ick swept over the room as the tragedy of this truth dawned upon us — the panelists and the audience.

Now, we hear increasingly about workplace mental health. I’ve shared many workplace mental health and psychological wellbeing resources here on the Jozito website.

These readily make clear that countries like Canada, European Union members, and Australia are far ahead of the US in their action planning, and I’ve previously written about Japan’s aggressive approach.

Will the US learn from other countries and develop an evidence-based agenda to address mental health in the workplace (and beyond)?

I’m optimistic and predict that evidence-based solutions prevail.

Yearning for Civility, “A Matter of Good Health”

December 4, 2018 in Top 10 2018, Featured

Number three -- for the third of top 10 wellness stories of 20183rd of the Top 10 Wellness Stories from 2018

Worldwide, a yearning for civility blossomed in 2018, and workplaces were no exception.

In addition to Christine Porath’s presentation at SHRM, civility surfaced on the agenda of major wellness conferences, and a prominent midwest health care system launched, with some fanfare, an introductory “Choose Civility” e-course.

Some of the best research on workplace civility intervention comes from Michael Leiter and others, who studied the Civility, Respect, and Engagement in the Workforce (CREW) program that was successfully implemented at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, where, among other things, it was linked to improved patient care.

And check out Prof.Leiter’s study of CREW’s impact — in a non-VA health care setting — on interpersonal relations, burnout, commitment, teamwork, trust, absenteeism, and job satisfaction.

Pier Massimo Forni, author of Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct, wrote:

Civility means more than just being nice. It encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health. Taking an active interest in the well-being of our community and concern for the health of our society is also involved in civility.

As a testament to the persuasiveness of Dr. Forni’s book, behold Howard County, Maryland, where readers were moved to launch a comprehensive Choose Civility initiative, with partnership among nearly 50 government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, and education systems united to encourage civility at home, at school, and at work. The program’s website is a trove of information and resources, including Choose Civility’s Strategic Plan, which may serve as a model for an employer getting started with its own civility initiative. (If you don’t live in Howard County, please get appropriate permission before using their content.)

Illinois Gets Its Fill of Noise as Wellness Study Sparks a Squabble

December 4, 2018 in Top 10 2018, Uncategorized

Two -- for the 2nd of 10 top wellness stories of 20182nd of My Top 10 Wellness Stories from 2018

I’ve written ad nauseam about the University of Illinois Workplace Wellness Study, so allow me to just explain why I’m optimistic about where it’s heading.

This evaluation of an employer’s fledgling wellness program gave wellness critics a rationale to declare employee wellness a failure. The evaluation data, which showed almost no positive outcomes during the program’s startup, is only preliminary and doesn’t say what critics say it says.

Distinguished defenders of wellness recently insisted that the lead of the story was buried, and the really important finding was that the program improved morale, employee engagement, and job satisfaction. This was, at best, either a gross misinterpretation or a dereliction of responsibility to actually examine the study.

In fact, the study didn’t measure morale or engagement. If anything, the happiness, energy, and job satisfaction metrics suggested that morale and engagement were unchanged.

Negative Outcomes Will Be Positive

I’m optimistic about what will happen when the data from this multiyear study finally emerges. I predict that, despite the laudable efforts of the program staff, the University of Illinois wellness study will show that this type of approach — emphasizing health risk appraisal, biometric health screenings, and incentives — won’t produce the desired outcomes. These types of programs rarely do. And this will be good news, because it may finally break the spell that’s been cast by purveyors of such programs, and we can all get busy with the real work of identifying and implementing serious well-being strategies.

Mindless Cheating

December 4, 2018 in Top 10 2018, Uncategorized

academic dishonesty1st of My Top 10 Wellness Stories from 2018

Brian Wansink, author of bestsellers like Mindless Eating and Slim by Design, recently had 13 of his research articles retracted and was nudged right out of his job as director of Cornell Food and Brand Lab, earning a spot on my list of 2018’s biggest wellness stories.

Even if you’ve never heard of Brian Wansink, you’ve probably been affected by his research. His studies, cited more than 20,000 times, are about how our environment shapes how we think about food, and what we end up consuming. He’s one of the reasons Big Food companies started offering smaller snack packaging, in 100 calorie portions. — Vox

Wansink led many headline-grabbing studies of eating behavior, showing, for example, that people eat less when food is served on smaller plates and that pre-ordering lunch leads to healthier choices. His work unleashed many employers’ nutritional wellness strategies, especially “making the healthy choice the easy choice.”

The media ate up Google’s implementations of Wansink’s “tricks” at their employee eateries, and wellness managers, like the rest of America, were sold, stocking the healthier vending machine options at eye level, featuring more nutritious foods near cafeteria entrances, serving on smaller plates, shutting down buffets, and changing the name of the daily special from “Tilapia” to “Succulent Italian Seafood Filet.” (Ask me why the “succulent, descriptive menu-item names trick” backfired when I tried it in an employee cafeteria).

According to the Cornell provost, Wansink’s academic misconduct included “the misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.” — Vox

(Also see: Here’s How Cornell Scientist Brian Wansink Turned Shoddy Data Into Viral Studies About How We Eat — BuzzFeed news investigative report.)

Dr. Wansink’s fall from grace is first on my list because it sounds a clarion call to our industry and to business leaders: Be wary of gimmicky research and employee wellness fads. It’s a lesson, as you’ll see in the other stories on my 2018 Top 10 list, that bears repeating.