N° 32 | March 2009

“COMMUNITY BASED INTERVENTIONS”

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Editorial

Improving healthy nutrition at the workplace:
Why are we so behind in France?

The implementation of Worksite Health Programs in France is the responsibility of individual employers, as per the national labour law and as a result of a long social history. This translates as priority to OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) approach and poorly developed Workplace Health Promotion. Nutrition is addressed by occupational practitioners in terms of irregular work hours, for example people working at night, but is otherwise often absent from workplace topics. Moreover it is difficult to strike a good balance between the proposition of nutrition policies in the workplace and individual freedom regarding dietary behaviours. It is assumed that people generally wish to eat what they want and do not appreciate an imposed nutritional message. Nevertheless, there is clear evidence of the links between lifestyles, including nutrition habits, working conditions, and ill-health. The current French figures on F&V point to low consumption. It is well known that price, taste, and eating habits in the home are determining factors; in the work place, there is also the issue of where to find fruit and vegetables and how to keep them.

The ideas of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) or Sustainable Development and work-life balance are increasingly becoming topics of debate and policy. This is partly in response to the fact that individuals also are becoming more concerned with their own health.

Some first examples of positive actions to improve access of F&V in the workplace include direct services offered to companies, vending machines which also deliver fruit compotes and fresh fruit, and nutrition information and education programs led by companies themselves or by workplace collective catering companies. Times are changing in response to demand of French consumers for healthier options, and specifically fresh fruit and vegetables, in the workplace.

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