Catering Disasters: CAUTION, FOOD AT WORK

Think cafeteria, and think samosas, bread pakoras, patties, burgers, bread rolls or chowmein, all oil laden in artery clogging fat! Vending machines stocked with calorie dense beverages be it colas or sugar laden drinks, teas and coffees. This pretty much represents Food at work. Food is relegated as least important both from the employer and employees standpoint. Too often the workplace meal programs are either an afterthought or not even considered by employers. High calorie, high fat, high sugar and high salt food and snacks are stocked up with employees having no healthy options. The truth is that neglecting workplace eating is virtually a recipe for disaster. Numerous studies indicate that food at work can impact not only employee health but has far reaching impact on the company's health. Research in the US indicates that medical bills on account of ill health due to obesity amounted US $ 51.6 billion and led to a loss of productivity of US $ 3.9 billion. Not surprisingly, obese workers are twice as likely to miss work.

It seems that work instead of facilitating or even accommodating healthy food choices is a hindrance. However, it is ironical that the quality of what we eat and drink at work directly impacts the quality of work and our productivity. Snacking on sugary foods and drinks, which the body quickly digests, cause a short surge in energy but ultimately leaves the body more tired.

The connection between nutrition and fatigue and drowsiness is well known. Fatigue or lack of energy, often reflects overwork or a nutritional deficiency, which is most commonly iron, but also B vitamins. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world (about 80 per cent of the world's population may have some level of iron deficiency). It not only reduces work capacity, but can become a serious block to economic development. Besides sluggishness, it results in low immunity, low endurance and a decrease in work productivity for mental and physical tasks, which can drop to as much as 30%.

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