healthy eating at work

Researchers studied worksite food choices and how they are associated with dietary quality, cardiometabolic health, and overall health.

Diet quality plays a large role in a person’s overall health. Unfortunately, obesity and other diseases are issues that continue to escalate due to unhealthy eating. It can be difficult to make healthy choices while being on-the-go or busy at work. Most people spend a large amount of time at their workplace, and therefore, turn to worksite food options for their meals or snacks. A lot of foods found at worksites are high in salt, fat, and sugar.

In a study published by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 602 participants were included in a cross-sectional analysis of worksite food choices. This study was carried out at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Participants used their employee badges to purchase food from on-site food services. The onsite food services applied a food labeling system; foods were either labeled green for healthy, yellow for less healthy, or red for unhealthy. Healthier foods were purposely made more visible for this study. Researchers examined participants’ worksite food choices via purchasing data. All participants completed the Automated Self-Administered 24-hour online dietary recall, as well as an online survey that collected medical socio-demographic information.

Almost sixty-three percent of participants were overweight or obese. Some participants had hypertension, diabetes or pre-diabetes, and/or hyperlipidemia. On average, each participant bought 112 items over a three-month period. Participants who mainly bought healthy foods (green-labelled) had the best overall dietary quality. These participants had lower cardiometabolic risk factors compared to other participants. Participants who mainly bought less-healthy (yellow-labelled) or unhealthy (red-labelled) foods were more likely to be at risk of diabetes/pre-diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and/or hyperlipidemia. These participants had the unhealthiest diet. Overall, the foods participants bought were associated with their overall dietary quality and health.

The researchers suggest that employers should implement dietary interventions and/or wellness programs to help increase employees’ health. These kinds of interventions could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, repair dietary quality, and help with weight loss. Healthy eating at work can lead to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer

References: McCurley, Jessica L., PhD, et al. “Association of Worksite Food Purchases and Employees’ Overall Dietary Quality and Health”. American Journal of Preventative Medicine. May 23 2019. 1-8. Online.


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