A systematic review of randomized controlled trials examining workplace wellness interventions

Bridget Murphy, Niyati Parekh, Dorice L. Vieira, Joyce A. O’Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: One of the influencing factors associated with weight gain is overeating as a maladaptive coping strategy to process or avoid the emotional impact of psychological stress. Psychological stress is chronically and pervasively associated with stress stemming from the workplace environment. Workplace wellness interventions have a unique opportunity to change environmental factors impacting psychological stress, which can improve individual food choice and weight management efforts. Aim: To synthesize evidence from randomized controlled trials on workplace wellness interventions that impact employee psychological stress and food choice or weight management. Methods: A systematic review was completed according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Selected studies were limited to English-language articles exploring randomized interventions at workplaces among adult employees and included measurements of psychometric stress and food choice (qualitative or quantitative) or biometric weight management. From the search, 10 studies were included in the final review. Results: Results were inconsistent across studies. There was no observable association between psychological stress reduction and food choice or weight management. Mid-length interventions (ranging from 6 to 9 months) had more consistent associations between intervention program implementation, reduced psychological stress, and improved food choice or weight management. Conclusions: The studies examining employee food choices and weight management efforts remained very heterogeneous, indicating that more research is needed in this specific area of employee wellness program planning and measurement. Consistent research methodology and assessment tools are needed to measure dietary intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalNutrition and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Workplace wellness
  • food choice
  • psychological stress
  • weight management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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