Education helps workers achieve health goals

Curriculum should increase knowledge

Educational programs designed to help employees achieve health goals enhance the appeal of prevention and wellness programs. That’s why Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center offers three very specific weight management classes designed to meet a variety of needs, says Gina Streed, RN, MBA, COHN-S, manager of employee health and wellness at the medical center in Winston-Salem, NC.

Balancing Act is a workbook-based weight loss class where participants keep a food diary and review it weekly for 12 weeks. They have the option of participating in the program as a group in a classroom setting or having one-on-one counseling sessions.

"Most employees like one-on-one counseling a lot better than the group, because someone will sit down with them for 30 minutes and go through their food diary with them. They talk about why they made food choices and what might have been a better choice," says Streed.

The goal of the program is to change lifetime eating behaviors by teaching people how to make healthier food choices.

Two other 12-week weight management classes are offered to employees to help them meet the goals they have set following their health risk appraisal. Benefit One is a series of basic nutrition classes that cover such topics as the food guide pyramid, counting calories, and determining the amount of fat grams in a serving of food. Benefit Two classes cover the nutritional value of food in an in-depth approach. For example, the instructor discusses why certain vitamins and minerals such as iron are needed, what they do for the body, and the foods that are iron-rich sources.

Because exercise is an important part of weight management, staff at Wake Forest offer to set up a series of walking paths at the company, either inside or outdoors. They measure areas so employees know that if they walk a certain route they have walked a quarter mile, and if they walk it four times they will have completed one mile, says Streed. "In addition to the weight loss classes, we need to help the employees find an activity-based component," she explains.