Why workplace food may not be healthy for you

Henrietta Brewer
June 15, 2018

"Work foods are high in empty calories, sodium, and refined grains and low in whole grains and fruit", the researchers reported", the researchers reported in their study presented at Nutrition 2018, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston held from June 9 to 12.

Nearly one-in-four participants obtained food from work at least once a week and the average weekly calories consumed was nearly 1,300. However, the vending machines may not be entirely to blame as free foods were estimated to account for 71 percent of all calories acquired at work.

The study authors suggested one solution to this problem: Employers should come forward to promote "worksite wellness" programs in order to encourage healthy eating at workplaces by including food options that follow federal recommendations in cafeterias and vending machines at the workplaces.

What they are eating and drinking at work: Pizza, soda, cookies, brownies, cake and candy. Whether it's your co-workers bringing in bagels on Fridays, donuts for someone's birthday, or just a vending machine craving in the afternoon - food is somehow inescapable at the office.


"Unfortunately, the diets of Americans, in general, is not really consistent with the recommendations from the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans".

The researchers conducted a survey of 5,222 employees to ask them about the food they get for free at work during a seven-day period.

The first national study looking at what people eat at work and found that workers took in an average of 1,200 calories worth of food and beverages per person, per week.

When employees spend more than half of their waking hours in the workplace, they are pushed to pick unhealthy foods and the empty calories quickly add up, Amico noted.


The research mirrors a recent study of over 8,000 people in the United Kingdom, which found that those who ate regularly at their desks or in the office canteen were more likely to be obese.

For many Britons, the workplace is where they consume most sugar and fat. The reason why this food is typically unhealthy is quite straightforward: employers want to give employees tasty food, often sweet.

"Since we found that a lot of the foods obtained by employees were free, employers may also want to consider healthy meeting policies to encourage healthy food options at meetings and social events", he said.

The bottom line for researchers: Employers can play more of a role to promote healthier food choices and provide access to them, such as making sure vending machines and employee cafeterias offer healthy options. "Providing delicious, appealing, healthy food can also help to create a culture of health at a workplace".


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