Most of us look forward to Pizza Friday or Donut Day at work, but what are these foods doing to our overall eating habits? According to a new study, it’s all doing more harm than good.
Recently, researchers looked at a group of 5,222 employees across the U.S. to determine just how these eating habits are impacting our overall well-being. They found that people tend to get high amounts of sodium and refined grains with very little whole grains and fruit through their jobs.
“To our knowledge, this is the first national study to look at the food people get at work,” said Stephen Onufrak, epidemiologist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Our results suggest that the foods people get from work do not align well with the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”
The study used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey. The researchers analyzed food and beverages that employees purchased at work as well, in addition to the food that was available for free in common areas of the office.
According to the analysis, nearly one-quarter of study participants obtained food from work at least once a week. The average calories obtained was approximately 1,300, and they were usually empty calories – those from solid fats and/or added sugars. More than 70 percent of calories came from food that was obtained for free (“Large study finds workplace foods contribute to unhealthy eating,” 2018).
“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,” Onufrak said.
Currently, the scientists are conducting ongoing research to specifically gauge how vending machine food (food for purchase) is impacting employees’ health.
“Worksite wellness programs have the potential to reach millions of working Americans and have been shown to be effective at changing health behaviors among employees, reducing employee absenteeism and reducing health care costs,” said Onufrak. “We hope that the results of our research will help increase healthy food options at worksites in the US.”
So what can you do to stay healthy?
Consider bringing your own food to work, rather than indulging in snacks around the office. Packing your own lunch and snacks can give you more control over the calorie intake you have throughout the day.
“Large study finds workplace foods contribute to unhealthy eating.” EurekAlert. Retrieved June 13, 2018, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/n2-lsf053118.php