lifestyles; (d) supportive nutrition options to reduce risk factors for chronic disease; and (e) ways to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs.
Worksite programs can reach large numbers of employees with information, activities, and services that encourage the adoption of healthy dietary and physical activity behaviors. For example, Irvine et al. (2004) evaluated an interactive multimedia program designed to encourage reduced consumption of dietary fat and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables at worksites. This study showed that the program had a positive impact on employee eating habits that was sustained at least 60 days following implementation. Other recent studies of worksite health promotion programs have found that both worksite and family-based interventions to increase fruit and vegetable consumption were similarly effective (Sorensen et al., 1999, 2004a). Worksite health promotion programs may reduce health care costs, including employer costs, for insurance programs, disability benefits, medical expenses, and employee sick leave (Aldana et al., 2005; Wright et al., 2004; Serxner et al., 2003).
A number of worksite health promotion activities have been instituted at NASA and are described on the NASA website (http://www.ohp.nasa.gov/). For example, at NASA Headquarters, nutrition counseling and physical activity interventions for employees with elevated serum cholesterol showed a trend of lowering serum low-density lipoproteins, a suggestive increase in high-density lipoproteins, and mild to moderate weight loss for the intervention group of employees (Angotti et al., 2000; Angotti and Levine, 1994). Uniform implementation of effective programs throughout the NASA system may provide significant improvements in employees’ physical and psychological well-being, and in turn benefit the agency.
Before the formation of NASA, research aimed at putting a U.S. astronaut in space was conducted primarily by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in cooperation with other federal organizations. NASA was formed in 1958 in response to the first successful launch and flight of Sputnik by the Soviet Union (http://www.history.nasa.gov/). At a time when the United States was engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union and was concerned about national defense, the successful launch of Sputnik indicated that the United States lagged behind in technological development.