Making poor dietary decisions during the work day may put one’s long-term health at risk, according to a new study. Low-quality meals sourced from cafeterias, snacks acquired from vending machines, and frequently ordered fast food items can fuel a generally unhealthy lifestyle, the research reveals, including an increased likelihood of making poor food choices outside of work.
The study was recently published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, where researchers from Elsevier revealed that employees at a large hospital who made poor food choices in the company’s cafeteria were more likely to have bad dietary habits outside of work, too.
When compared to employees who made better at-work food choices, the people who purchased unhealthy foods had higher risk factors for the eventual development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In addition, these employees were more likely to be overweight or obese, the latter of which is associated with greater instances of employees being absent from work.
The findings are important for helping companies shape employer-sponsored food programs that encourage employees to make better food choices. Changes in work day diets remain important for Americans, the majority of whom spend around half of their waking hours at their place of employment. Most workers also acquire their food while at work rather than bringing meals prepared at home.
A number of employers with on-site cafeterias have launched eating programs that help employees make better food choices. These programs often include readily available materials that break down food products into different categories, offering a snapshot of dietary recommendations from private and government health officials.