‘Al desko’ dining is making you FAT: Workers eat thousands of empty calories of vending machine junk

Eating lunch at work is making people fat, according to new research.

A study of more than 5,000 employees found food consumed hunched over desks or laptops are stashed with salt and unhealthy refined grains.

These are found in pasta, pastries and white bread and have been linked to bulging waistlines. 

Scientists explain that the meals are also high in fats and sugars and include very little whole grains and fruit that have fewer calories. 

The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study suggests that offices and factories ought to take on a more active role in combating the obesity crisis.

American workers eat more than 1,000 calories a week at their desks – but these are usually empty calories from carbs and fats, a new CDC study reveals 

Dr Stephen Onufrak, an expert in nutrition at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said: ‘To our knowledge this is the first national study to look at the food people get at work.

‘Our results suggest the foods people get from work do not align well with the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.’

The finding mirrors a recent study of over 8,000 people in the UK that found those who ate regularly at their desks or in the office canteen were more likely to be obese.

They also tended to have lower levels of vitamins and sky high cholesterol as well. For many, the workplace is where professionals consume the most sugar and fat.

Studies conducted in the US and abroad have shown that setting distinct meal times and eating slowly can both help people to control their consumption and gain less excess weight. 

For many workers, lunchtime in the office, store or factory is quite the opposite, as they scramble to finish eating and get back to work.  

The latest research presented at an American Society for Nutrition meeting in Boston said that foods available in the workplace are also fueling unhealthy eating.

It found employees eat more than 1,000 calories a week at work – and most of it is obtained for free.


Nutritionists broke down the best – and worse – pre-packaged vending machine snacks for your health. 

The majority of vending machine snacks are just empty calories – and even their packages are often mostly filled with air. 

But some snacks are worse than others. 

Nutritionists say that candy bars and cookies are to be avoided at all costs, as they usually contain 200 or more calories, most of which have no nutritional value. 

A vending machine’s selection of chips tends to be a mixed bag. You are almost guaranteed to get a high dose of sodium with nay potato or corn chips. 

But baked or popped chips at least cut down on fat and grease. 

Your best bet, however, if you are stuck with vending machine food, is to stick with popcorn or nut nuts, which have less fat and more full calories. 

The study used data from the US Department of Agriculture Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey (FoodAPS) on food purchases and acquisitions during a seven-day period.

It analyzed the food or beverages 5,222 employees bought at work from vending machines or cafeterias or were obtained for free in common rooms, meetings or social events.

Almost one in four participants obtained food from work at least once a week and the average weekly calories consumed was almost 1,300.

The food tended to be high in empty calories, those from solid fats and added sugars. More than 70 percent came from food that was obtained for free.

The researchers say bosses could help staff eat better by using worksite wellness programs to promote healthy options that are also appealing.

In other words, instead of bringing in donuts for a breakfast treat on the Friday following a particularly hectic work week, rewarding staff breakfasts could instead include fruit, oatmeal or other healthy foods.  

Employers could also ensure foods in cafeterias or vending machines follow food service guidelines which translate the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans into practical recommendations.

Dr Onufrak said: ‘Since we found a lot of the foods obtained by employees were free, employers may also want to consider healthy meeting policies to encourage healthy food options at meetings and social events.’

About a quarter of adults in the UK are obese and another four-in-ten obese – putting them at increased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and even dementia.

The researchers are now conducting a similar study using another dataset to examine foods specifically purchased from vending machines and cafeterias in the workplace.

Dr Onufrak said: ‘Worksite wellness programs have the potential to reach millions of working Americans and have been shown to be effective at changing health behaviors among employees – reducing employee absenteeism and reducing health care costs.

‘We hope the results of our research will help increase healthy food options at worksites in the US.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk