Background: The present research describes a measure of the worksite environment for food, physical activity and weight management. The worksite environment measure (WEM instrument) was developed for the Route H Study, a worksite environmental intervention for weight gain prevention in four metro transit bus garages in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Methods: Two trained raters visited each of the four bus garages and independently completed the WEM. Food, physical activity and weight management-related items were observed and recorded on a structured form. Inter-rater reliability was computed at the item level using a simple percentage agreement.
Results: The WEM showed high inter-rater reliability for the number and presence of food-related items. All garages had vending machines, microwaves and refrigerators. Assessment of the physical activity environment yielded similar reliability for the number and presence/absence of fitness items. Each garage had a fitness room (average of 4.3 items of fitness equipment). All garages had at least one stationary bike and treadmill. Three garages had at least one weighing scale available. There were no designated walking areas inside or outside. There were on average < 1 food stores or restaurants within sight of each garage. Few vending machine food and beverage items met criteria for healthful choices (15% of the vending machine foods; 26% of the vending machine beverages). The garage environment was perceived to be not supportive of healthy food choices, physical activity and weight management; 52% reported that it was hard to get fruits and vegetables in the garages, and 62% agreed that it was hard to be physically active in the garages.
Conclusion: The WEM is a reliable measure of the worksite nutrition, physical activity, and weight management environment that can be used to assess changes in the work environment.