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