Dining ‘al desko’: How workplace snacking adds up to thousands of empty calories


From the office food pusher to conveniently located vending machines heaving with junk food, the workplace can be a nutritional minefield. And as a new study shows, the lure of calorific snacks is taking a toll on the diets of more than 60 per cent of American workers.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), employees eat nearly 1,300 calories each week at work – much of it salt-laden and high in empty calories from added sugars, refined grains and solid fats.

The study focused solely on the food and beverages that more than 5,000 people across the U.S. procured at work – examining vending machine and cafeteria purchases, as well as complimentary snacks, meals and beverages.

“The majority of the calories people got at work, people didn’t pay for – 70 per cent of the calories were free,” study co-author Stephen Onufrak, an epidemiologist at the CDC, told HealthDay.

Roughly one in four subjects obtained food at work at least once a week, the study found. Pizza, French fries, cookies, brownies, sandwiches and soft drinks were among the most popular choices. The workplace diet is notably light on “nutrient-dense foods” like vegetables, fruit and whole grains.

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“While work foods aren’t really necessarily a huge source of calories overall in people’s diets, I think they are still a significant source,” Onufrak told CNN. “If you look at the quality of the foods people got, it definitely did not necessarily adhere to the dietary guidelines very closely.”

The researchers said that the findings present an opportunity for employers to foster healthful food options as part of workplace wellness programs, such as “healthy meeting policies.”

“Worksite wellness programs have the potential to reach millions of working Americans and have been shown to be effective at changing health behaviours among employees, reducing employee absenteeism and reducing health care costs,” Onufrak said in a statement. “We hope that the results of our research will help increase healthy food options at worksites in the U.S.”

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Source:: Nationalpost – News

      

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