Making a few simple changes in the workplace can help employees avoid gaining weight, according to a study in the March Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Researchers at University of Georgia and Emory University who studied the impact of environmental interventions at several Dow Chemical Company worksites found that simple, low-cost interventions—like encouraging workers to take the stairs and making healthy options available in vending machines—helped employees avoid weight gain.

However, those measures didn’t lead to weight loss -- even when combined with voluntary, individual weight-management programs. The approximately 60% of employees who participated in the program “were no more successful at losing weight than those who were only exposed to the environmental interventions,” the researchers wrote. In all groups, about 13.5 percent of workers reduced their weight by five percent or more.

"Low-cost environmental interventions provide an opportunity for worksites to encourage weight maintenance and control in the general employee population," the researchers conclude.