Food trap you’re falling into at work
YOU have probably known for some time that the birthday cakes you enjoy on almost a daily basis are not so good for the waistline, but we now have proof this is the case.
A new study of more than 5000 American workers has reported that the food people are consuming at work equates to almost 1300 calories - almost an entire extra days' worth - each week. And of these 1300 calories, 70 per cent was found to come from free food or foods found or offered within workplaces.
The study was conducted by the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in Boston last week.
It analysed data from a survey of food consumption over a seven day period. Researchers paid particular attention to the food and drinks employees purchased at work at vending machines or from on-site cafes, as well as foods employees obtained from meeting areas, common areas such as the kitchen and at work social events.
The data showed that nearly 25 per cent of participants consumed food from work at least once each week, these calories added up to close to 1300 calories and the foods consumed were high in empty calories and included soft drinks, biscuits and baked goods such as brownies.
For anyone who works in an office, these results are not that surprising.
Whether it is fundraising chocolates, the office baker, unhealthy catering, special events such as birthdays and celebratory drinks which tends to include beers and pizza, the extra foods consumed at work are generally not healthy.
Of particular interest in this study was the fact that most of the extra foods consumed by participants was free, suggesting than when we do not pay for it we are even more likely to indulge and eat much more than we need to simply because it is there.
What we eat at work is important simply because we spend so much time there, often time that is spent sitting. With this data suggesting the average worker is consuming an extra days' worth of food while they are at work, it is not surprise that work-related weight gain is common.
These findings confirm that the office vending machine, lolly jar, biscuit tin and daily chocolate and/or cake run have no place in a healthy workplace. This is not saying that an occasional piece of cake is a bad thing, rather the daily foods provided by workplaces, for meetings and workplace events need to shift towards healthier options.
Less weight gain over time means healthier employees which means more productive workplaces.
These starting results have led researchers to call for employers to support the health of their employees by committing to healthy eating policies when food is provided by the organisation.
This translates into healthy catering, healthy vending machines and healthy snack options.
Human beings will eat what food is readily available, and based on this study, what is freely available to them. Employees will continue to overconsume calories and get fatter and less healthy the longer unhealthy foods are the go-to in offices all around the country.
Susie Burrell is a nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter: @SusieBDiet