The University of Georgia’s College of Public Health will help government employees in Athens, Columbus and Macon prevent Type 2 diabetes and trim their waistlines through a five-year, $3 million grant.
Funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases will allow UGA researchers to study how best to give employees information about increasing exercise and reducing the number of calories they consume.
Mark Wilson, who heads UGA’s College of Public Health’s department of health promotion and behavior, will lead the study.
Beginning next year, the study will test different ways of giving information about leading healthier lifestyles to employees, Wilson said. One group of employees will receive booklets with information about moving around more and eating less fat. The second group will meet in small groups and talk about the progress they’re making with the educational booklet. The third group will receive one-on-one coaching with a health professional by telephone.
Although the intervention for one employee will only last six months, studies have shown that it takes about five years for an employer to realize cost savings from a prevention plan, he said. “We want this to continue long after we pack up and go home,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s research will help employers find effective ways to give employees information about preventable diseases, said Phillip Williams, dean of UGA’s College of Public Health.
“Obviously, we’re excited about any grant of that size, but we’re especially excited because it addresses such an important issue,” Williams said.
Besides addressing the state’s high rates of Type 2 diabetes and obesity, the grant also could help governments spend less money on employees’ health benefits, and — in the long run — attract businesses, Williams said.
Some companies will look at rates of obesity in an area before choosing to locate their business there, he said. “They’re using these types of indicators to look at the health of a workforce in a particular area,” Williams said.
UGA also recently announced a statewide initiative, involving expertise from across the university, to address obesity in children and adults as well as obesity-related diseases.
For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.