Systematic review of worksite-based behavior change programs that target metabolic syndrome risk factors

Sarah Acosta, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Approximately one-third of US adults have metabolic syndrome, the clustering of cardiovascular risk factors that include hypertension, abdominal adiposity, elevated fasting glucose, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol and elevated triglyceride levels. While the definition of metabolic syndrome continues to be much debated among leading health research organizations, the fact is that individuals with metabolic syndrome have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and/or type 2 diabetes. A recent report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that the US spent $2.2 trillion (16.2% of the Gross Domestic Product) on healthcare in 2007 and cited that among other factors, chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are large contributors to this growing national expenditure. Bearing a substantial portion of this cost are employers, the leading providers of health insurance. In lieu of this, many employers have begun implementing health promotion efforts to counteract these rising costs. However, evidence-based practices, uniform guidelines and policy do not exist for this setting in regard to the prevention of metabolic syndrome risk factors as defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III). Therefore, the aim of this review was to determine the effects of worksite-based behavior change programs on reducing the risk factors for metabolic syndrome in adults. Using relevant search terms, OVID MEDLINE was used to search the peer-reviewed literature published since 1998, resulting in 23 articles meeting the inclusion criteria for the review. The American Dietetic Association's Evidence Analysis Process was used to abstract data from selected articles, assess the quality of each study, compile the evidence, develop a summarized conclusion, and assign a grade based upon the strength of supporting evidence. The results revealed that participating in a worksite-based behavior change program may be associated in one or more improved metabolic syndrome risk factors. Programs that delivered a higher dose (>22 hours), in a shorter duration (<2 >years) using two or more behavior-change strategies were associated with more metabolic risk factors being positively impacted. A Conclusion Grade of III was obtained for the evidence, indicating that studies were of weak design or results were inconclusive due to inadequate sample sizes, bias and lack of generalizability. These results provide some support for the continued use of worksite-based health promotion and further research is needed to determine if multi-strategy, intense behavior change programs targeting multiple risk factors are able to sustain health improvements in the long-term.

Subject Area

Occupational health|Public Health Education|Nutrition

Recommended Citation

Acosta, Sarah, "Systematic review of worksite-based behavior change programs that target metabolic syndrome risk factors" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1470645.