A cost-analysis of complex workplace nutrition education and environmental dietary modification interventions

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Fitzgerald, Sarah
Kirby, Ann
Murphy, Aileen
Geaney, Fiona
Perry, Ivan J.
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Background: The workplace has been identified as a priority setting to positively influence individuals’ dietary behaviours. However, a dearth of evidence exists regarding the costs of implementing and delivering workplace dietary interventions. This study aimed to conduct a cost-analysis of workplace nutrition education and environmental dietary modification interventions from an employer’s perspective. Methods: Cost data were obtained from a workplace dietary intervention trial, the Food Choice at Work Study. Micro-costing methods estimated costs associated with implementing and delivering the interventions for 1 year in four multinational manufacturing workplaces in Cork, Ireland. The workplaces were allocated to one of the following groups: control, nutrition education alone, environmental dietary modification alone and nutrition education and environmental dietary modification combined. A total of 850 employees were recruited across the four workplaces. For comparison purposes, total costs were standardised for 500 employees per workplace. Results: The combined intervention reported the highest total costs of €31,108. The nutrition education intervention reported total costs of €28,529. Total costs for the environmental dietary modification intervention were €3689. Total costs for the control workplace were zero. The average annual cost per employee was; combined intervention: €62, nutrition education: €57, environmental modification: €7 and control: €0. Nutritionist’s time was the main cost contributor across all interventions, (ranging from 53 to 75% of total costs). Conclusions: Within multi-component interventions, the relative cost of implementing and delivering nutrition education elements is high compared to environmental modification strategies. A workplace environmental modification strategy added marginal additional cost, relative to the control. Findings will inform employers and public health policy-makers regarding the economic feasibility of implementing and scaling dietary interventions. Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN35108237. Date of registration: The trial was retrospectively registered on 02/07/2013.
Cost-analysis , Micro-costing , Workplace dietary interventions , Environmental dietary modification , Workplace health promotion
Fitzgerald, S., Kirby, A., Murphy, A., Geaney, F. and Perry, I. J. (2017) 'A cost-analysis of complex workplace nutrition education and environmental dietary modification interventions', BMC Public Health, 17(1), pp. 49. doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3988-7
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