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With a Pinch of Salt: Men & Salt - A Workplace Intervention

In 2008, the MHF was commissioned by the Food Standards Agency to develop an action research project to pilot and evaluate a workplace-based health improvement intervention with the intention of learning the most effective ways of communicating the FSA’s key salt messages to men on low incomes.

The intervention and subsequent evaluation took place at the Royal Mail’s Greenford Mail Centre, Middlesex, a facility with 2,000 employees, two thirds of whom are men from a wide range of age groups and ethnic backgrounds.  The intervention was a multi-component targeted intervention consisting of:

• Low salt products offered in the canteen
• Dissemination of the Men’s Health Forum’s Living Healthily Manual
• Mini health sessions
• Input from Ealing Primary Care Trust
• A health information tool for dining tables
• Low salt tasting sessions
• Article in the Royal Mail newspaper ‘Courier’
• Locker post cards

The evaluation study has demonstrated that a workplace intervention targeted at men can produce positive change in men’s awareness of the impact of salt on health and can contribute to positive changes in the health behaviours of men. Engagement with partner organisations helped produce a diverse range of intervention components as well as helping other partners meet their corporate social objectives.  The evaluation showed that men are likely to value different methods of delivery from women.  Gender sensitivity therefore is important in both the design and implementation of an intervention. 

Stephen Sibbald, the MHF's director of operations, said "In the UK, 85% of men eat too much salt .There is a large body of evidence indicating that a diet containing too much salt is linked to raised blood pressure, which in turn is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, a significant killer of men.  Research has shown that men’s knowledge and attitudes towards key health issues such as nutrition and weight often provide a key barrier to improving the health of men".

Stephen continued "This intervention showed however that a sustained, multi-level campaign delivered in the workplace can effect an increase in male awareness of key health messages and in some cases lead to behaviour change.  It showed also that large employers, like Royal Mail, wield considerable influence in being able to negotiate contracts with on-site catering suppliers which enables them to ensure that healthy and salt-free options appear on the workplace canteen menus".

Page created on April 1st, 2010

Page updated on April 1st, 2010