11 Jul 2019

A new survey shows that many workers want to eat a more healthy and balanced lunch, but struggle to do so. Many of these workers have cited a lack of availability of healthy food options as a key factor in their lunchtime choices.

The research of American workers who eat lunch during work hours was conducted by the American Heart Association, and revealed that 56% said they struggle to eat a healthy lunch at work, with 77% saying they were more likely to make healthier decisions at other times of the day.

Key findings included:

  • More than 9 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 40+ (65% vs. 55%).
  • More than 4 in 5 (82%) agree that having healthy food options at work is important to them and more than 2 in 3 (68%) value help from their employer in becoming healthier.
  • About 4 in 5 (79%) whose workplace has on-site cafeteria, food service or vending machines get food there at least some of the time.
  • Nearly 9 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 40+.
  • On a stressful day at work, about 1 in 3 (35%) say their lunch is less healthy than a typical day, with women more likely to say so than men (40% vs 32%).

“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 and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. “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.”

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