Needs Assessment to Develop a Program to Promote Healthy Lifestyles and Eating Habits among Employees of the Bureau of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica

Friday, October 28, 2011
Hall 1-2 (San Jose Convention Center)
Maciel Ugalde, BS , Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences, Clemson University, Central
Melissa Jensen, BS , Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia
Silvia Araya, BS , Universidad de Costa Rica, Cartago , Costa Rica
Anne Chinnock, MPD , Universidad de Costa Rica , Sabanilla, Costa Rica
Worksites are appropriate places to promote healthy lifestyles through educational programs because of the amount of time employees spend at work and the access to a large adult population with a shared purpose and common culture. The purpose of this study was to assess the needs and interests of the employees of the of the Bureau of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica and the opportunities and constraints that allow them to have healthy eating habits and lifestyles. A self-administered questionnaire was sent to all the employees (N=120) and an observation checklist was completed to describe the work site environment. Sixty five percent of the participants answered the questionnaire (n=78).  Responders were mainly women (70.5%) with ages between 19 and 60. Sixty two percent of the employees buy their lunch 1-3 days every two weeks mostly from fast food restaurants. Almost half (44.8%) of the participants reported to do physical activity at least 3 times a week, 12.8% smoke, and 43.3% reported to drink alcohol at least once a week. The main health problems were colitis, gastritis, overweight and obesity. The educational topics of interest were nutrition and physical activity, healthy eating and healthy cooking. The best time participants reported to develop the intervention was after working hours or during lunch. There were no cafeterias, green areas or places to be physically active in the building.