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School Work Lunch Cafeteria Meal

Food Offered at Work Tends to Have Low Dietary Quality

A healthy diet is a cornerstone of good health. However, a recent study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that when people obtain food at work it tends to be high in calories, solid fat, sugars, and/or sodium.

The researchers analyzed data from the US Department of Agriculture Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey. The survey was conducted from April 2012 through January 2013 and included 5,222 employed adult Americans. The survey assessed the prevalence of obtaining any foods at work overall, number of acquisitions and calories obtained, most commonly obtained foods, and leading food sources of calories. The foods analyzed were purchased from vending machines or cafeterias, or obtained for free in common areas, during meetings, or at worksite social events.

Approximately a quarter (23.4%) of working adults obtained food from work during the week. The foods they obtained had an average of 1,292 calories per person per week. The leading foods purchased were pizza, regular soft drinks, cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, and candy. Using the 2010 Healthy Eating Index, the researchers determined that work foods tend to be high in empty calories, sodium, and refined grains, and low in whole grains and fruit.

Obesity and low dietary quality are important risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. The researchers recommend that companies develop worksite wellness programs aimed at offering employees appealing and healthy food options.

The study was  published in January, 2019, in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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