Is Work Making You Unhealthy?
I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home. I set my own hours and my own routine. I exercise whenever I feel like it, and I eat fresh Easyfit meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner most of the time. I also make sure the fridge and pantry are full of healthy food. But unfortunately, most workplaces, especially offices, often encourage bad eating and lazy habits. There’s research to prove it. The world’s largest study of workplace eating habits found that people eat huge amounts of unhealthy meals and snacks at work, packed with carbohydrates & sugars.
The study was carried out by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and dieticians looked at the food consumed by more than 5,200 public servants in offices. The dieticians discovered that office workers were snacking way too often between meals. The growing trend has been made even worse by free food companies provide, or foods brought in by other employees. Around 20 percent of workers get free food at work. This included birthday cakes and catering left over from work functions. This ‘free’ food added around 1,300 extra calories per week or around 70 percent of the calories people eat on the job (outside of meals). Not only that, most workplaces had either vending machines (full of unhealthy snacks) or chocolate boxes.
Workplace snacks are notoriously unhealthy
Stephen Onufrak, an epidemiologist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said the research was probably the world’s first large-scale study of what people eat at work. The results were based on the respondents’ memories of what they ate at work over a week-long period.
Companies should take responsibility, leadership & initiative by encouraging workers to eat better at work, and this is something I plan to have plenty to do with.
Look at these statistics: almost one-quarter of Aussie kids and two-thirds of Aussie adults are overweight or obese, and it’s climbing. Our weight problem is costing the Australian economy almost $9 billion every year. So many diseases are linked to carrying excess body fat: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers, gallbladder, osteoarthritis, gout, and breathing problems.
Unhealthy eating is killing us
Unhealthy eating is actually killing people. It sounds gloomy but it’s the truth. At the end of the day, it’s better for employers to have fit, healthy employees rather than people who are developing heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. When people are healthy, they take fewer sick days. And don’t forget the mental effect being healthy has. It increases the brain’s cognitive functions. This means sharper focus & better quality of output/work from employees.
Can you believe that the office workers surveyed for the American study all worked at the Department of Agriculture? You’d think these workers would have had access to farm fresh produce and pasture-fed meats. Instead, they reported eating plenty of sugary snacks and carb-based meals.
Office workers spend too much time sitting
It’s not just the bad diet of office workers that’s impacting their well-being. Office workers spend too much time sitting.
Ever heard the expression, “Sitting is the new cancer”? It was coined by Apple’s Chief Executive, Tim Cook. There’s nothing wrong with the sitting position; it’s more that the constant inactivity is killing people. Doctors from the Leicester Hospital in the UK released data in 2012 proving this. Based on the research of the data of 800,000 people, they found that people who spent the most time sitting or lying while awake had a 112 percent increase in the risk of developing diabetes and a 147 percent risk increase of having a heart attack. These two factors increased their risk of dying by 90 percent – almost double.
Heaps of other studies have backed up the findings, concluding that developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes is linked to sitting down too much and not getting enough physical activity. The World Health Organisation says that physical inactivity is now the fourth leading cause of mortality worldwide, behind high blood pressure, smoking, and high blood glucose. This means that every year, 3.2 million deaths worldwide are caused by inactivity.
It’s time office workers take action
It’s up to you as an individual to make sure you eat smarter and move more. Also, don’t go too long without getting outside and absorbing some of that vitamin D and fresh air.
It’s also time for employers to encourage office workers to become more health conscious. I’ve heard of workplaces that have installed exercise bikes in meeting rooms so that workers can pedal while they hang out during lunch breaks. I mentioned earlier that Apple’s Chief Executive, Tim Cook, coined the phrase, “Sitting is new cancer”. He said this when launching the new Apple Watch which reminds the wearer to stand up and move more, even while in the office. Great idea, but you need a $400 watch to start being active and eating smarter. First, spend that money on cleaning out your fridge and pantry, filling them with beautiful, full-flavoured, healthy, real foods that are low in carbs and sugars.
Find more physically challenging ways around your daily work life to kill two birds with one stone and get your workout in during your work hours. Make a game of it and think of new ways to raise the bar each week. On your lunch break go the long way to the cafe. Take the stairs instead of the lifts. Grab a workmate and walk around the park a couple of times a week if you can.
After looking at the research I’m positive that the average nine-to-five office environment is not a healthy way to live whatsoever.
Office life can be a potential death trap. Stay on top of yourself.
If you work in an office, be aware that many of your colleagues live very unhealthy lives and you need to invest energy and time in making sure that you’re not poisoning yourself every day and that you’re getting fresh air and moving enough. If you’re not, you’re heading toward health challenges way before your time.