Free Food At The Workplace Could Promote Unhealthy Eating Habits, Study Finds

Free Food At The Workplace Could Promote Unhealthy Eating Habits, Study Finds

Free Food At The Workplace Could Promote Unhealthy Eating Habits, Study Finds

Donuts, cookies, pastries, the candy dish, the vending machine and more - are office foods making people fat?

In the week that was studied, "nearly one in four working adults obtained food at work. and the food and beverages that they got added up to an average of almost 1,300 calories, more than half the recommended daily calorie intake for the average adult", lead author Stephen Onufrak, a CDC epidemiologist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, told ABC News.

Americans are consuming upwards of 1,300 "extra" calories per week in the workplace, says new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Furthermore, not only were the foods high in calories, they also contained added sugars and high amounts of sodium.

The team is conducting a similar study focused more deeply on foods purchased at vending machines or cafeterias.

ABC reported a few of the researchers' suggestions, including promoting a salad bar over a pizza or burrito station in the employee cafeteria and replacing those cheese-flavored chips in the vending machines with sunflower seeds.

The study over 5,000 employees from a United States firm, showed that nearly a quarter had food from work at least once a week and that the average weekly calories obtained was almost 1,300.

The government researchers found that the problem of employees eating too much junk food on the job is widespread, with more than 20 percent of Americans reporting that they snack on food that they got from work for free at least once a week, according to EurekAlert! online science news service, which published the study results on Monday. 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.

This study was limited in some ways, including that it was based on participants' memory of what they ate in a seven-day period.

Hence, the researchers advice the employers to ensure that the employees get healthy food at work.

According to the researchers, employers could help their employees eat better at work by using worksite wellness programs to promote healthy options that are also appealing.

"Worksite wellness programmes have the potential to reach millions of working people and have been shown to be effective at changing health behaviours among employees, reducing employee absenteeism and reducing health care costs", Onufrak said.

Findings from the new research were presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting during Nutrition 2018 held in Boston on June 11.

Researchers say that employers should take some responsibility for this trend and think more about how to provide healthier food options to their employees.

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