Dietary intake, physical activity and risk for chronic diseases of lifestyle among employees at a South African open-cast diamond mine

Stadler, Karen (2006-03)

Thesis (MNutr (Human Nutrition))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


INTRODUCTION: The study investigated dietary intake, physical activity and risk for chronic diseases of lifestyle (CDL) among employees at a South African open-cast diamond mine. OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to determine the habits and barriers to a healthy lifestyle in order to determine the need for workplace interventions at De Beers Venetia Mine (DB-VM) to decrease the risk for CDL and optimise employee wellness. DESIGN: An analytical, cross-sectional, observational study. SAMPLING: A representative proportional stratified sample of 88 permanent employees at DB-VM was randomly selected to participate in the study. The sample was stratified according to work-shift configuration and occupational category. Permanent employees were limited to subjects with at least six months employment at DB-VM. Temporary employees and contractors were excluded from the sample. METHODS: Subjects were required to complete a validated self-administered sociodemographic-, meal frequency- and physical activity questionnaire. A validated quantified food frequency questionnaire was administered by the investigator. Anthropometric measurements including weight, height and waist circumference were performed by the investigator. RESULTS: The study documented a high prevalence of obesity among female (45%) and male (32%) employees. A total energy intake above the Estimated Energy Requirement (EER) was found in 38% of males and 64% of female subjects. Fourty eight percent of males and 64% of female subjects exceeded the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Rate (AMDR) for total fat intake, while the mean saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake was above the recommendation of less than 10% of total energy intake. An inadequate fibre intake was observed for 87% of males and 55% of female subjects. Folate intakes below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) were found in 62% male and 82% of female subjects. A “low active” physical activity level (PAL) was found in 91% of females and 67% of professionals. Significantly more females (p=0.01) and professionals (p=0.00005) demonstrated a “low active” PAL compared to males and other occupational categories. Work-related barriers to a healthy lifestyle such as long working hours, work demands, a long commute and working shifts contributed to skipping of meals and prevention of physical activity participation among employees. CONCLUSION: The study demonstrated a high prevalence of overweight and obesity among employees characterised by high fat and inadequate fibre intakes, increasing the risk for CDL. Work-related barriers contributed to an unhealthy lifestyle and specific interventions at the workplace would appear necessary to decrease the high prevalence of obesity and risk for CDL. RECOMMENDATIONS: Wellness interventions should be introduced at DB-VM to improve the health and well-being of employees.

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