New proposals from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) advising employers on how to help their staff get fitter do not go far enough, it has been claimed.
The recommendations from Nice include measures such as providing bike racks and encouraging staff to take the stairs instead of the lift in order to improve health.
However, The Work Foundation has claimed that "simple palliatives" such as bike racks will not work and that the primary route to healthier workers is to rethink the way that workers work.
Research shows that workers in lower-status jobs suffer from worse health and a lower life expectancy than those in higher-status jobs and reveals that workplace status is as important to health as exercise, the organisation said.
It said that while a balanced diet and exercise would improve a worker's health, if staff had to work long hours in poor environments with little say over how things could be improved, this would be less effective.
Steven Bevan of The Work Foundation said: "Gym memberships and the introduction of salad bars are good things for employers to do but the battle to get Britain's workplaces healthy will require more better designed jobs and better organised work to have a chance of outright success."