The food at the workplace may not be healthy for the employees

Food at work adds up to a lot of extra calories: Study

Foods typically high in solid fat, added sugars, or sodium were the leading foods obtained.

The study was presented at an American Society for Nutrition meeting held on Monday. Whether it's your co-workers bringing in bagels on Fridays, donuts for someone's birthday, or just a vending machine craving in the afternoon - food is somehow inescapable at the office.

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. 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. "We're eating more meat than recommended, more refined grains", said Angela Amico, a policy associate at the Center for Science in the Public Interest who was not involved with the study.

"Nearly one in four working adults obtained food at work during the week, 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, an epidemiologist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told ABC News.

The researchers looked at dietary habits of more than 5,000 people and found that food consumed on the job - often food the study subjects didn't pay for - may be contributing to the nation's obesity crisis.

Listing calories, and nutritional content, on vending machine and cafeteria items could also help deter employees from eating some unhealthier items. These items may have been purchased from vending machines and cafeterias or were provided for free in common areas, meetings, work events, etc. "We hope that the results of our research will help increase healthy food options at worksites in the U.S".

"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. "If you look at the quality of the foods people got, it definitely did not necessarily adhere to the dietary guidelines very closely".

"Employers can encourage healthier foods at meetings and events, especially when the employer is providing free food to employees", Onufrak told ABC.

The study found that not only do these calories add up, but also the source is rarely healthy.

"Worksite wellness programs have the potential to reach millions of working Americans and have been shown to be effective at changing health behaviors among employees, reducing employee absenteeism and reducing health care costs", said Onufrak.

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