American Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO), recently teamed up with non-profit organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), to investigate whether a low-fat vegan diet would improve the health of office workers. The results of the two-part study were positive, as participants experienced a drastic health improvement.
Whilst employees with type-2 diabetes, typically those with a BMI higher than 25, were a particular focus for researchers, the plant-based program was intended to help all workers. By introducing a low-fat, plant-based diet across the board, “the [overall] health of the company” will benefit, said key researcher and vegan physician, Dr. Neal Barnard.
“People generally want to be healthier, but sometimes they don’t know where to begin. If the employer supports those healthy goals, it’s a real gift,” he added.
The first part of the study lasted 22 weeks, participants ate lunches with black bean chili, hummus, vegetables, and green salads. Further, healthy cooking demonstrations and informative sessions with doctors and dieticians from PCRM were provided to help workers change their at-home cooking habits. During this first period, each GEICO office worker lost an average weight of 11 pounds and took less time off work due to illness.
An 18-week secondary part of the study followed, with around 300 GEICO participants from 10 regional offices across the nation. During the day, a vegan diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and fiber, was consumed. They were offered the same food education initiatives as the first group, but also took trips to the grocery store with an expert, to learn about reading ingredients and making healthier choices.
Participants in the second group each lost an average of 10 pounds, lowered their LDL (the type of cholesterol that can lead to cardiovascular disease) by 13 points and were able to sustain a consistent blood sugar level. In addition to the physical health improvements, participants were pleased to note they experienced a drop in their levels of anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
A previous, two-year-long PCRM study found educating GEICO employees about the benefits of a plant-based diet did, for the most part, stick with participants. “The weight (of the participants) remained off long-term,” Barnard noted.
Image Credit: GEICO via Car Insurance Guidebook