there haven't been chorizo sandwiches in Seat for over half a year. Not at least for workers who have lent theway, such as guinea pigs, in the MedCars project, to study the health impact of an intervention on lifestyle habits. The automobile company replaced, in a group of employees, the mortadella and chorizo with sandwiches of whole-grain bread with hummus, sardine or avocado. In six months, cardiovascular risk was reduced.nbsp;
The chorizo sandwich anecdote was the starting point: to change the snack that Seat delivers to its workers at each shift for a healthier piscolabis. This is how the study began in April 2018, in which the Clínic hospital in Barcelona and the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute participated. But the intervention went further: there were also guidelines of physical exercise and intensive emotional accompaniment.
To begin with, the researchers recruited about 300 workers from the factory in the Barcelona Free Zone and another 300 from the El Prat factory. All were subjected to extensive medical examinations at the start and end of the study. Health intervention was made on the Barcelona group, trying to re-educate their habits to make them healthier. About those of El Prat nothing was done but to give the usual health advice by the occupational health team.
, with free zone employees, the researchers launched six simultaneous strategies. To increase adherence to the Mediterranean diet, experts prepared seasonal menus and healthy shopping lists, handed out five litres of virgin olive oil per month to each participant and 30 grams of nuts daily and discount vouchers for healthy products in a supermarket chain. The company also incorporated sales machines with healthier products and accompanied all the food intervention with behavioral and emotional advice to workers and their families. In addition, the researchers added exercise recommendations to employees.
In six months of intervention, changes in habits have already paid off in terms of health. "The intervention group reduced more than two of the main parameters associated with cardiovascular risk: the weight and perimeter of the waist," said Dr. Ramon Estruch, internal medicine consultant at Hospital Clínic. Triglycerides were also reduced in the intervened group and the presence of a protein linked to inflammation of the arteries. "Mental health and sleep quality also improved in the intervened group," added Estruch. According to the experts, health outcomes have been maintained after the studyhas been completed.
The next step, now, is to study the microbiota—the millions of microbes that populate the gut—of the workers who participated in the research. "This study has made an impact at the metabolic level through the Mediterranean diet, but now we want to see if, in the microbiome, there is an impact of the Mediterranean diet and what bacteria it impacts," explained the director of IrsiCaixa, Bonaventura Clotet.nbsp;
The intervention study with Seat workers in Barcelona has concluded and with it the healthy snacks. The chorizo sandwich is back, although now employees have healthy alternatives in vending machines. However, Seat's leaders have ensured that they will study with the workers the possibility of implanting the healthy snacks to all the workers and banishing – or setting aside – the chorizo sandwich of the company.
Saray Narbonne was one of those who ran out of chorizo sandwiches. The 40-year-old and half-life-old at Seat's factory was already in good care of her diet and did sports, but decided to participate in the study to "improve nutrition patterns." It cost, at first, to change routines. "The atmosphere in the staff is of young people and older. The young steres are a little more aware, but for the older ones it was a big change to go from chorizo or bacon to wholemeal bread with fresh cheese," she admits. In the end, though, the template was "very receptive." "I think the chorizo sandwich has the days numbered. When the study was over, it was even hard to get back to the sandwich and there are people who didn't participate who now regret it," he says,
The best thing about the studio, says the worker, were "talks with the nutritionist and the psychologist"; the worst: the kitchen on the way home from work. "It adds up: the laziness of working outside and having to get you to cook and that, if it's not for the Thermomix, my life wouldn't make sense," Saray admits. Precisely, the psychologist tried on this disillusioned and sloaning the employee and her partner, also a Seat worker and study participant, to leave the weekly menus ready beforehand.
Although Saray didn't have a lot of pounds left over and her life habits weren't so bad, she's lost two kilos after the experiment. "My cholesterol has dropped and I have more protein index. You notice the change," he guarantees.
The chorizo sandwich, as such, has already returned, but some habit changes have already settled among the companions. "Little by little, we have been introduced to healthy details. For example, on the night shift, instead of giving us a reinforcement of pastries, we get nuts or yogurt," he concludes.