Almost half of us say we eat unhealthy snacks at work due to boredom

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Our workplaces are to blame for our diet failures, new research reveals today (25th February). In a study conducted by Fruyo, results reveal that over a quarter of diets fail because of unhealthy snacking in the workplace (27%).

Unhealthy snacks reign supreme in the office, with the top three items being cookies (37%), chocolate (32%) and crisps (30%). Meanwhile, healthy choices, such as fresh fruit (23%), low fat yoghurt (6%) and crackers (2%) lag behind.

The findings also reveal that we love to eat ‘al desko’, with over third of all snacking (31%) occurring at our desks. However, for nearly one in ten people (8%), they admit to snacking in secret whilst at work, in places such behind their computer screens and even the toilets.

When it comes to the reasons why, boredom, according to over two fifths of respondents, is the number one excuse (41%), followed by the urge for an unhealthy treat (31%) and a lack of energy (26%). Office workers also seek solace in snacking when they are stressed (20%) – media, marketing and design professionals cite this at their top reason.

Overall, marketing professionals are the worst for their snacking habits. They are at the top of the unhealthy table, with over half (58%) admitting to having one of the 4 Cs (chocolate, cake, crisps and cookies) every day, and bottom of the healthy table, with only one in ten (11%) saying they snack on healthy items, such as fruit and low fat yoghurt. Ironically, nearly half of health sector professionals reach for the treats tin on a daily basis (47%), with teachers and accountants not far behind (46% and 44% respectively). Lawyers, who are not very snack-tastic, can be pleased with bottom place of the unhealthy table, with only a quarter of them snacking on unhealthy food (25%).

Nutritionist and food writer, Fiona Hunter commented: “These findings outline how quick we are to blame our work and our colleagues for our diet failures. I often hear employees saying it’s difficult to eat healthily whilst they are working, but it doesn’t have to be tricky. I’d recommend planning healthy, protein-rich snacks, to keep your energy levels up and temptation at bay. By seeing snacking as a positive element to your working day, it’ll help you to make structured, informed choices, keeping you and your diet in line.”

Alison White, spokeswoman for Fruyo (FAGE UK), added: “It’s apparent that some sectors are more inclined to eat unhealthily than others – blaming our habits on office treats. It also seems many of us feel pressured by our colleagues to snack out of sight. To help with  this unease, and promote healthy snacking, we’re challenging local businesses, across the country, to make smarter choices and swap their usual cookies and crisps for healthier snacks to feel the difference both within themselves and across their workplace too.”

Karen Kennaby, the food coach at the BBureau, adds: “It is hardly surprising that unhealthy snacking is rife in the workplace, given that most vending machines still feature the 4 Cs. This abundance of unhealthy high carbohydrate snacks is part of an unhealthy cycle which often starts with the classic toast and coffee breakfast, creating a surge and then dip in blood sugar and resulting in employees reaching for their next sugar fix. This sugar rollercoaster continues throughout the day and can have serious negative implications for energy and productivity levels.

“It is never easy to change eating habits, but there are a few ways in which employers can encourage healthier eating in the workplace:

  • Make healthy snacks such as seeds, nuts and fruit more available to employees
  • Encourage employees to drink water rather than fizzy drinks – many people don’t realise that 8 cups of water a day will do just as much to boost energy as 8 cups of coffee of coke
  • Encourage awareness when eating by discouraging meals eaten at the desk (even taking 10 minutes off to focus on eating lunch can help)
  • Remind employees that unhealthy snacking is mainly down to habit and it takes 21 days to change this habit (e.g. wean yourself off the automatic biscuit with tea)”

In response to these findings, FAGE UK – the makers of Fruyo and Total Greek Yoghurt – are laying down the ‘Ditch & Switch’ Snack Challenge, where any workplace that promises to ban chocolate, cake, crisps and cookies for a month will receive a supply of fruit and Fruyo yoghurt to get their health kicks back on track.

For further information on the ‘Ditch and Switch’ Challenge, visit their Facebook page and to find out more about Fruyo head to uk.fage.eu.

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  1. Interesting article!
    40% say they are bored – what happened to the frenetic, over paced workplace with excessive demands and expectations?

    Boredom has long been known to induce stress, the symptoms of which are many but change in eating habits is one well known behavioural change. Carbohydrates are particularly attractive due to the comforting sugar surge and eventual production of serotonin. Unfortunately our Western diet seems to go for carbs over protein to fix boredom, distress, anxiety etc

    If employees are bored then there needs to be a change in their working pattern, managers expectations and interpersonal communications.

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