Many Americans are overindulging in snacks at work, findings of a new study that involved more than 5,000 employees across the United States have revealed.
1,300 Added Calories Per Week
Stephen Onufrak, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues studied the food and beverages that people bought at work from the cafeteria and vending machines as well as those they get for free from common areas, worksite social events, and meetings.
They found that 22 percent of the participants consumed food from work that average nearly 1,300 calories per week. Of these calories, 70 percent were from free food. Onufrak and colleagues also found that the foods are not just high in calories, but they also tend to be unhealthy.
"Work foods are high in empty calories, sodium, and refined grains and low in whole grains and fruit," the researchers reported," the researchers reported in their study presented at Nutrition 2018, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston held from June 9 to 12.
Health experts said that since employees spend a lot of time at work, they are pushed to eat unhealthy food, resulting in the empty calories quickly adding up.
"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 said.
Onufrak added that the findings suggest that the food that people get from work are not aligned with the recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Avoiding Unhealthy Workplace Food
Samantha Heller, from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, offered an advice to employees whose workplace does not offer healthy options. She said that by bringing their own lunch, employees can take charge of the foods that are available to them.
For those who do not bring their own food, she advised doing some scouting to find out what healthy food choices are available around the workplace. As for the free sweets offered at work, Heller said it is okay to say no to these treats.
"People bring a lot of treats to work. People like to feed each other to show affection. But it's OK to say no to the birthday cake or the brownies. It's always going to be somebody's birthday or another celebration. Decide ahead of time that you're going to say no to treats at work," Heller advised.
Other healthy practices that can help employees resist unhealthy snacks at work include hanging out with health-conscious crowd and drinking plenty of water.