New study finds free food at work leads to unhealthy eating

New study finds free food at work leads to unhealthy eating

"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. Study shows many exceed adult recommendations.

The researchers presented the results in the first week of June at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.

Maybe it's time to put down that office donut.

"Free food accounted for 71 percent of all calories acquired at work", Onufrak's team wrote in a summary of their work.

A new study has found that the foods commonly available in workplaces across the United States contain high amounts of sodium and low amounts of grains and fruit.

Another factor impacting the health of Americans may be the food provided at work, especially free food options, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 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. High levels of empty calories were sourced back to the solid fats and added sugars. But it's OK to say no to the birthday cake or the brownies.

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

Subjects in the study filled out surveys about what they ate at work over a seven-day period.

In the week that was studied, "nearly one in four working adults obtained food at work. and the food and beverages that they got added up to an average of almost 1,300 calories, more than half the recommended daily calorie intake for the average adult", lead author Stephen Onufrak, a CDC epidemiologist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, told ABC News. Vending machines could swap their cheese-flavored corn chips, at 250 calories with little nutritional value, for sunflower seeds that include healthy fats and fiber, at 160 calories.

"Since we found that a lot of the foods obtained by employees were free, employers may also want to consider healthy meeting policies to encourage healthy food options at meetings and social events", he said. The reason why this food is typically unhealthy is quite straightforward: employers want to give employees tasty food, often sweet.

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. "Providing delicious, appealing, healthy food can also help to create a culture of health at a workplace".

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