Janna Melkonian, owner of Rappit Up, provides healthful foods like salads and wraps to restaurants and cafes throughout Fresno, like these at Rio Acai Bowls on Fulton Street. Photo by Edward Smith.

published on July 12, 2019 - 3:44 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The food choices you make for lunch at work may affect how healthily you eat the rest of the day, a survey says.

The American Heart Association found in a survey that 77% of people who choose to eat healthier for their midday meal carry over those decisions to dinner and beyond.

The trouble is, however, that 56% say they struggle to eat healthily according to the survey the non-profit did with food service company Aramark.

“Understanding what employees are eating for lunch on a typical workday and what factors influence their choices helps us develop strategies to improve dietary intake with multi-level approaches through food systems, communities and individuals,” said Anne Thorndike, MD, MPH, vice chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee said in a press release. “The finding that healthier food choices at work may impact food choices throughout the rest of the day presents a unique opportunity for the workplace to have a positive influence on not only the employee’s health but also the health of the employee’s family.”

The online survey by The Harris Poll polled 1,062 adults in the United States, of whom 907 said they eat lunch during work hours.

Of those surveyed, 43% said that their ability to eat healthier was hindered by an availability of options. Another 60% said convenience had a “great deal” of impact on their decision-making. Taste preference also had a “great deal” of impact with 54% of respondents.

“Improving the nutrition content and reducing calories of classic favorites and typically indulgent menu items helps. Having more plant-based options to choose from at home and on menus helps. But in the end, people still need to choose to eat healthier food. The good news is most people said they are interested in doing better,” said Thorndike.

Other notable statistics include:

—More than nine in 10 (91%) are interested in improving the healthfulness of their typical workday lunch with employees under 40 more likely to be extremely/very interested compared to employees aged over 40 (65% vs. 55%).

—More than four in five (82%) agree that having healthy food options at work is important to them and more than two in three (68%) value help from their employer in becoming healthier.

—About four in five (79%) whose workplace has on-site cafeteria, food service or vending machines get food there at least some of the time.

—Nearly nine in 10 (86%) prepare work lunches at home at least some of the time, with women more likely to do so than men (91% vs. 82%).

—When eating an unhealthy lunch, employees under age 40 are more likely to be impacted at least a little bit by cost (91% vs. 79%) and choices of their peers or coworkers (75% vs. 50%) than employees aged over 40.

—On a stressful day at work, about one in three (35%) say their lunch is less healthy than a typical day, with women more likely to say so than men (40% vs. 32%).

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