Research needed to link supplements and work performance, says expert

Posted: 17 February 2020 | | No comments yet

An expert on public health has called for more research into potential links between food supplements, dietary nutrient density and productivity in the workplace.

Research needed to link supplements and work performance, says expert

Supported by the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplements Associations (IADSA), Dr Adam Drewnowski, Professor of Epidemiology, conducted a comprehensive review of health-based intervention programmes in the workplace and their impact on employee performance in order to find potential links between food supplements and workplace performance.

Workplace productivity is commonly evaluated in terms of absenteeism and reduced performance has been associated with greater employee turnover, more disabilities and increased healthcare costs. However, few studies on workplace interventions for health are said to have used productivity or work performance as the endpoint.

Drewnowski said that, as a result, evidence linking workplace diet-related interventions with increased workplace productivity was sparse.

“The one consistent underlying assumption was that the planned nutrition-related interventions, which led to healthier diets, would improve workplace productivity in the long term,” he wrote. “However, in most cases, workplace productivity was not measured.”

Drewnowski also addressed a potential role for supplementation in delivering improved workplace performance. Noting that studies carried out to-date had looked at dietary interventions only in relation to food, he suggested that their scope should be widened to include nutrition obtained from elsewhere, including food supplements.

He suggested taking a two-pronged approach to future research in order to promote a “nutrition-driven economy”.

“First, large-scale observational studies could include questions about workplace productivity in addition to questions about health outcomes,” he said. “Second, there is a need for randomised controlled trials of supplement use in the workplace, with both health and productivity as outcomes. Including workplace productivity measures in standard health surveys would help establish the link between nutrition interventions and local and national economies.”

“Dr Drewnowski has identified, for the first time, a gap in our understanding of the role of nutrition and supplementation in the workplace. His review lays the groundwork for a discussion about how we can address this knowledge deficit through targeted research. IADSA looks forward to engaging with stakeholders to explore how we can best achieve this,” commented Simon Pettman, IADSA Executive Director.

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