Professor of Epidemiology Dr Adam Drewnowski has called for further research into the connection between food supplements, dietary nutrient density and productivity in the workplace.
The call follows a comprehensive review of health-based intervention programs in the workplace and their impact on employee performance conducted by Drewnowski and supported by the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA).
Presenting his findings in Nutrition Reviews, Drewnowski asserts that evidence linking workplace diet-related interventions with increased workplace productivity is scant as few studies focus on this as the endpoint, looking instead at absenteeism or presenteeism.
Including workplace productivity measures in standard health surveys would help establish the link between nutrition interventions and local and national economies
“The one consistent underlying assumption was that the planned nutrition-related interventions, which led to healthier diets, would improve workplace productivity in the long term,” he wrote. “However, in most cases, workplace productivity was not measured.”
Drewnowski also put forward a possible role for supplementation in delivering better workplace performance. He observed that, so far, research has only looked at dietary interventions relating to food, but believes future studies should include nutrition obtained from other sources, such as supplements.
Suggesting a two-pronged approach for future research to promote a ‘nutrition-driven economy’, he says: “First, large-scale observational studies could include questions about workplace productivity in addition to questions about health outcomes. Second, there is a need for randomized controlled trials of supplement use in the workplace, with both health and productivity as outcomes. Including workplace productivity measures in standard health surveys would help establish the link between nutrition interventions and local and national economies.”
Commenting on the review, Simon Pettman, IADSA executive director, says: “Dr Drewnowski has identified, for the first time, a gap in our understanding of the role of nutrition and supplementation in the workplace. His review lays the groundwork for a discussion about how we can address this knowledge deficit through targeted research. IADSA looks forward to engaging with stakeholders to explore how we can best achieve this.”