Barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and physical activity of office-based workers in New Zealand

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Manawaduge Silva, Prasadie Rashmini
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Applied Management
Otago Polytechnic
Kularatne, Indrapriya
Rajah, Edwin
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
office workers
sedentary workers
worker wellbeing
physical activity
food choice
well being
Manawaduge Silva, P. R. (2022). Barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and physical activity of office-based workers in New Zealand. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Management). Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand.
The high rate of global mortality due to obesity has encouraged researchers to identify the major factors associated with the increased prevalence of obesity and other non-communicable diseases. Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are major contributors to morbidity and premature death. The working population spends the majority of their waking hours in the workplace and the workplace setting has been identified as an ideal environment to improve healthy eating and physical activity of workers. While many occupations and community settings have been researched, little is known about office-based workers eating behaviour and physical activity level in the workplace. The primary goal of this research is therefore to explore the barriers and facilitators that New Zealand office-based workers face in terms of healthy eating and physical activity in the workplace. This research used a mixed methodology; a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to answer the research questions. A total of 106 office-based workers in New Zealand completed the questionnaire and of these participants, 13 were participated for the semi-structured interviews. Descriptive statistics have primarily been used to analyse the quantitative data while thematic analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data. The quantitative survey results indicated that the majority of office-based workers' workplace fruit intake is in line with the New Zealand health recommendations. Notably, their sweets intake in the workplace is higher than the general health recommendations. In terms of physical activities, the majority of the office-based workers' occupation does not involve any vigorous-intensity or moderate-intensity activity during their work time and their sitting time is seven to eight hours in the workplace. The qualitative interview results discovered that excessive workload, work stress, nature of work, organisational culture, unavailability of healthy food options in the workplace, and lack of encouragement from the management were the main barriers to healthy eating and physical activity in the workplace. To promote healthy eating and physical activity in the workplace, the research recommends that the management should streamline the physical environment of the workplace by cultivating a positive organisational health climate by reducing workload, increasing work flexibility, providing compulsory breaks for stretching and exercise, longer lunchtimes for walking groups or fitness classes and increasing the availability of healthy food options in the workplace.
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