New study finds free food at work leads to unhealthy eating

Food at work adds up to a lot of extra calories: Study

"Our results suggest that the foods people get from work do not align well with the recommendations in the dietary guidelines", said Stephen Onufrak, epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to this new survey, about one-quarter of American worker bees eat almost 1,300 calories at work per week and many of those calories are rich in fat and sugar.

The researchers presented the results in the first week of June at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition. The study found that nearly 70 percent of those calories came from the free food provided in common areas, during work-related social events or meetings, the researchers analyzed that data from a household survey of food bought and acquisitions.

Snacks that are eaten by employees at work are often high in sugar and fat, but they also can amount to an extra 1,300 calories every week, which is more than half the recommended daily calorie intake for the average adult, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, 35, 20, 12, 11, 12, and 10 percent of those who obtained food at work had one, two, three, four, five, and more than five acquisition occasions, respectively.

The results of this study call to attention the fact that workplaces play an important role in the health of a person and that access to healthier food options will go a long way in better health of the employees.

The scientists are now hoping to continue their investigations to explore the foods specifically purchased from vending machines and cafeterias 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.

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How much are they getting?

What they are eating and drinking at work: Pizza, soda, cookies, brownies, cake and candy.

A study of 5,222 employees across the U.S. found that the foods people get at work tend to contain high amounts of sodium and refined grains and very little whole grains and fruit.

The researchers analyzed the food or beverages purchased from vending machines or cafeterias at work, and the free food in common areas.

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

Since a lot of the food items obtained by employees were free, employers may also want to consider promoting policies to encourage healthy food options.

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

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