Employees at UBC’s Okanagan campus hear results of study into their healthy behaviours

This February UBC's Be Well at Work project held a Study Celebration Wrap-up event at the Okanagan campus. Dr. Carolyn Gotay, a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Cancer Society Chair in Cancer Primary Prevention, was Principal Investigator of the study. At the event, she told the group that almost 700 BC workers took part in the study, and results indicated that participants increased healthy behaviours including weight loss and fruit and vegetable consumption. The audience also heard from motivational speaker Crystal Flaman on how to enrich their personal lives and take action in the direction of their aspirations and dreams.

The Be Well at Work project was a partnership between the University of British Columbia’s School of Population & Public Health and the Canadian Cancer Society, British Columbia and Yukon Division, with funding from the Canadian Cancer Society. The project focus was on decreasing employees’ cancer risk through promoting healthy lifestyles. Employees at UBC’s Okanagan campus had the opportunity to participate in an intervention that used individually-tailored email messages.

“I liked learning about healthy eating options and how to incorporate physical activity into my workday,” said Sharon Malkinson, a UBC employee who participated in the study.

Being healthy at work is more important than ever. In 2004, Health Canada reported that 67% of adults spend more than 60% of their time at the worksite. The workplace has become a key location to encourage healthy practices and to reduce cancer risk — it’s estimated that one third of all cancer cases can be averted through appropriate diet, physical activity, and weight control.

“Unhealthy eating, inactivity, and obesity are leading causes of cancer, but these risks can be modified,” said Dr. Gotay. “By promoting healthy behaviour at work, we have helped people reduce their chances of getting cancer.”