Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Workplaces Serve Unhealthy Food, New Study Finds

Workplaces Serve Unhealthy Food, New Study Finds

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019 - 06:15
Office workers take their lunch at a food court in Sydney, Australia, May 4, 2018. (Reuters)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
A new study suggests that foods eaten in US workplaces, whether purchased in cafeterias, or available to employees for free are usually unhealthy.

A survey of what working adults ate over the course of a week found that one in four people got food at work one or more times, and that it was generally high in calories, salt, fat and sugar.

These treats included pizza, soft drinks, cookies, brownies, cakes, pies and candy.

They added up, on average, to nearly 1,300 calories per week, the study authors report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Lead study author Stephen Onufrak, a researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Obesity Prevention and Control Branch in Atlanta, Georgia, said: "The majority of this is not from cafeterias or vending machines, but offered for free at social events and meetings, which surprised us."

The findings are drawn from a nationally-representative sample of 5,200 employed adults who took a survey from the US Department of Agriculture in 2012-2013, which asked what people ate over a seven-day period.

They found that 23 percent of workers obtained food at work during the week, including 17 percent who got food for free and 9 percent who bought food.

Among the top contributors to calorie totals were soft drinks, sandwiches, chips, pastries, pizza, and candy.

As measured by a standard known as the 2010 Healthy Eating Index (HEI), the workplace foods got an average score of 48.6, which is about the average score found in analyses of menu items at fast food restaurants, the study team notes.

HEI rates food types by how healthy they are, with whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables and lean protein sources score is 100.

While food obtained at work doesn’t represent the largest part of most people’s diets, about 11 percent of workers obtained food at work three times per week, and five percent of workers did so five or more times per week.

That means millions of employees eat a large number of calories at work regularly and it could be a significant part of their diet.

Editor Picks