Put Down That Free Food At Work

The Lempert Report
February 22, 2019

Workplace snacks and food could be a significant source of empty calories

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, which utilized data collected in 2012-13 as part of the USDA’s Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey, looked at the eating habits of more than 5,000 employed adults in the U.S. It found that nearly a quarter of respondents obtained food and beverages at work at least once a week, adding up to an average of 1,292 calories.

“The foods were high in empty calories, sodium, and refined grains, and low in fruits and whole grains,” said lead author Stephen Onufrak.

Unhealthy food, packed with fat, sugars, and sodium, accounted for half the extra almost 1,300 calories each week.

According to the study, the No. 1 leading food source of calories was pizza, followed by sandwiches, regular soft drinks, cookies and brownies, burgers, breakfast sandwiches, doughnuts and pastries, burritos and tacos, chicken, and potato chips.

The CDC study is the first of its kind to look at what people are eating at work. It counted food purchased at vending machines or cafeterias, brought in by other employees, or obtained during meetings or other events. It did not include food brought in from home or purchased off-site.

Among the worst perpetrators, the study found, was free food, which accounted for 70 percent of the added 1,300 calories per week.