Between all the baked goods, sandwiches, and Friday pizza treats, free food at work is simply irresistible. And since it’s not coming out of your pocket anyway, there’s really no harm in taking advantage of it, right?
Well, even though it’s not damaging your bank account, your waistline is actually the one paying a hefty price.
A new study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found U.S. office workers, on average, eat a whopping 1,291 extra calories each week just from food consumed at work, with two-thirds of it coming from food obtained for free.
The study, funded by the Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), found that the 10 most commonly obtained foods in an office setting are:
- Soft drinks
- Tap water
- Cookies or brownies
- Lettuce salad
- French fries
- Potato chips
“These 10 foods accounted for 44 percent of the foods obtained at work,” the study said. “Additional foods also included among the most commonly purchased foods were tortilla and other chips, candy containing chocolate, and crackers. The most common foods acquired for free also included chicken.”
Although the study was U.S. based, there’s no arguing with the fact that when anyone is given choice, they opt for more sugar and refined carbohydrates, with fewer fruits, vegetables, and wholegrains.
The study’s author Stephen Onufrak, suggested workplaces should prioritise offering healthier food.
“Employers can offer appealing and healthy options in cafeterias, vending machines, and at meetings and social events,” Onufrak said. “One way to do this is by incorporating food service guidelines and healthy meeting policies into worksite wellness efforts.”
So, next time that free birthday cake is making its rounds around the office, remember it still comes at a price.