Workplace foods may lead to unhealthy eating

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Nearly 25 percent of study participants reported eating food from work at least once a week, and the average weekly calories obtained from these foods was around 1,300.

It's no secret that cupcakes in the break room provide little nutrition.

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The food rarely included foot items such as fruit or whole grain. Many working Americans obtain food and beverages from work, and these foods often do not align with dietary guidelines, according to a study presented during Nutrition 2018, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, held from June 9 to 12 in Boston. Researchers found that a quarter of these employees, most of whom were college graduates, women and non-Hispanic whites, did get food and beverages at work.

The food tended to be high in empty calories, those from solid fats and/or added sugars - with more than 70 per cent of the calories coming from food that was obtained for free.

The new study used data from the US Department of Agriculture Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey (FoodAPS), a nationally representative household survey on food purchases and acquisitions during a seven-day study period.

Over 20% of people in the USA get food from work at least once a week and the first national study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that such food adds up to a lot of extra calories.

For example, the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, a coalition managed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, suggests a "healthy meeting" pledge that calls for healthier options at work. We need to make employers aware of this and encourage them to offer healthier foods.

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ABC reported a few of the researchers' suggestions, including promoting a salad bar over a pizza or burrito station in the employee cafeteria and replacing those cheese-flavored chips in the vending machines with sunflower seeds.

Researchers are now conducting a similar study focused more deeply on foods purchased at vending machines or cafeterias.

Employers were encouraged to facilitate change by introducing healthy food options at meetings and social events and ensuring cafeteria food and vending machines follow food service guidelines.

Onufrak also recommended worksite wellness programs which have been effective at cultivating health-conscious behavior among employees, reducing employee absenteeism and health care costs.

"We hope that the results of our research will help increase healthy food options at worksites in the United States", Onufrak said in a statement.

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