My role


Using the workplace to lower salt intake

If you usually take stories of successful health interventions with men or at work with a pinch of salt, the MHF's latest report will have you thinking again. Report author Isabella Surpluss summarises the findings. 


saltIn its work with the Royal Mail for the Food Standards Agency on men and salt, the MHF has demonstrated yet again how the workplace can be used to deliver effective health interventions.

In the UK, 85% of men eat too much salt. This is linked to raised blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

Research has also shown that men's knowledge and attitudes towards key health issues such as nutrition and weight often provide a key barrier to improving their health.

The primary aim of this project was to use the workplace to communicate the FSA's key salt messages. It took place at the Royal Mail's Greenford Mail Centre, Middlesex, a facility with 2,000 employees, from a wide range of age groups and ethnic backgrounds, two thirds of whom are men. They were offered:

  • Low(er) salt products offered in the canteen
  • the MHF's Living Healthily mini-manual 
  • health sessions
  • Input from Ealing Primary Care Trust
  • A health information tool for dining tables
  • Low salt tasting sessions
  • an article in the Royal Mail staff newspaper 'Courier' 
  • Locker post cards

Evaluation before and after the intervention involved 389 members of staff of whom 272 were male. The study found that although there was a mixed response to the lower salt products offered in the

Canteen, there was a:

  • significant increase in men's perceptions of the importance of salt to health
  • significant improvement in men's awareness of key FSA messages
  • significant reduction in the proportion of men who reported

    'always' adding salt to food when cooking 

  • relatively large proportion of men who said they found the dissemination strategies useful

The evaluation study showed that while men value different methods of delivery from women, a workplace intervention targeted at men can produce positive change both in men's awareness of the impact of salt on health and in their claimed health behaviours.

Engagement with partner organisations helped produce a diverse range of intervention components as well as helping other partners meet their corporate social objectives.

Summary of Key Learning Points

  • Successful implementation of a workplace intervention depends on   a good understanding of the organisation involved.
  • Timing is critical and initiatives should engage with the business to understand their operating context and the drivers which will both facilitate and potentially impede the project's progress
  • Engagement with partner organisations such as food suppliers,

    caterers and employees can help facilitate positive change in canteen

    food, whilst maintaining commercial viability. Working together may

    also assist partners fulfil their corporate social responsibilities.

  • A tailored gendered-sensitive workplace intervention can be more

    effective in facilitating positive change in men's awareness of the

    impact of salt on health.


Page created on February 2nd, 2009

Page updated on December 1st, 2009