Can’t Button Your Pants? Maybe Work is to Blame?

By: Marie Donlon

You start your work-week with the best of intentions: your lunch includes lots of fruits, vegetables and other healthy snacks. Unfortunately, as soon as you pass through the lobby of your office, you can smell them: doughnuts.

And pizza, and cookies, and cake.

Trademark of most offices is the collection of goodies that accumulate in common areas.  Whether they are left over from some event or intentionally brought in for a celebration, the American worker is constantly surrounded by food.

As such, it should come as no surprise that a new study has found that the American worker “acquires” roughly 1,300 calories from “work food” alone, each week, and that doesn’t include the food that employees bring in for lunch.

Among the foods and beverages that people encountered most in the workplace, according to the study, include:

  • Coffee
  • Sugar-sweetened soft drinks
  • Sandwiches
  • Tea
  • Cookies
  • Brownies
  • French fries
  • Pizza
  • Salad
  • Water
  • Diet soft drinks

Of those on the list, researchers determined that workers got the majority of “work calories” from pizza followed by sandwiches and regular soft drinks.

Experts suggest that it is up to the employer to have healthy snack options in the office to curb the consumption of empty calories.

“If you look at data on worksite wellness programs, they’re effective at getting people to have healthier behaviors, reducing health care costs and reducing absenteeism. I think encouraging a healthy diet is an essential part of a worksite wellness program,” said study co-author Stephen Onufrak, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the workplace that doesn’t offer healthy options, nutritionists recommend, instead, good old-fashioned willpower to avoid empty snacking.

“People bring a lot of treats to work. People like to feed each other to show affection. But it’s OK to say no to the birthday cake or the brownies. It’s always going to be somebody’s birthday or another celebration. Decide ahead of time that you’re going to say no to treats at work,” said nutritionist Samantha Heller.