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Workplace Wellness in the North Zone

About a year ago, I visited Grand Prairie to learn more about obesity management in the Alberta Health Services North Zone.

That visit was particularly timely, as not soon after, a Vital Signs report on the health of communities across Canada identified Grand Prairie as having the highest obesity rates of all of the 22 communities included in that report.

During that visit, I recall mentioning in passing that it would be great if employee wellness programs could be implemented that would focus on healthy behaviours (not weight loss).

Yesterday, I was back in the North Zone and was delighted to learn more about several examples of how these ‘thoughts’ had actually been implemented in several businesses in Grand Prairie and were beginning to show results.

Thus, for example, Kari Speaker Smith, a partner with Fletcher Mudryk and Co., Chartered Accountants, spoke about their success at changing the snacking culture, reducing sedentariness and increasing the fun factor (yes, Accountants!), at the work place. This pilot project included visits from AHS public health nurses and other activities that have already shown significant benefits both in health behaviours, team building and morale.

In my presentation, I complimented the various employers on their initiatives and pointed out that bringing not just ‘wellness’ activities but also thinking about expanding such activities to ‘disease management’ may actually be something that may need to be considered given the predicted increase in obesity related chronic health problems in the workforce.

Later in the day, I also gave presentations to primary care physicians and other health care professionals across all of Northern Alberta on the 5As of Obesity Management and how the use of these tools can simplify obesity management in the North Zone.

I certainly had a full and informative day and very much look forward to future visits.

Edmonton, Alberta


  1. This is so great to hear! Changing communities and general public knowledge about obesity is critical. Thanks for your passion for all of us who have struggled with weight for our whole life.

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  2. I agree 100% with the focus on health rather than on weight, but I do question the appropriateness of addressing fitness and nutrition through the workplace. The fact is, people who choose not to participate, especially if they’re larger than average, may well be subject to discrimination.

    Personally, I like to compartmentalise work. I do not like to mix my work with my hobbies, or to let work intrude into other areas of my life. If I like my workmates, I’ll happily socialise with them. However, work already dominates most adults’ time and takes up a huge amount of mental and emotional energy. The last thing that I want is to allow my employer to interfere in my personal business, including my family, hobbies and health. If I’m able to get my work done, then the rest is none of their business. Frankly, that’s why having a job is different from being a slave.

    I’ll even go so far as to pay for a gym membership rather than going to a free gym at work, because I find having my employer involved in my fitness habits to be deeply creepy. It is simply not their concern, and one of the best things about public health care systems is the fact that they take away employers’ excuse (health insurance) to try to interfere in their employees’ life and health outside of the scope of their work.

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  3. Healthy behaviors is a state of mind and need to be reinforced by community changes.
    Being active at the workplace should be achieved as a goal that will ameliorate global health with little effort (personal and monetary).
    So workplace health promotion policy is to be implemented.

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