If you tend to keep guards on unhealthy foods down at workplace, you may be at an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, compared with those who eat healthy food, says a study.
Employees who purchased the least healthy food in the cafeteria were more likely to have an unhealthy diet outside of work, be overweight and/or obese compared with employees who made healthier choices, said the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The findings could contribute to a better understanding of the relationship of eating behaviours at work with overall diet. Besides, they could also help shape worksite wellness programmes that improve long-term health outcomes and reduce costs.
"Workplace wellness programmes have the potential to promote lifestyle changes among large population of employees, yet there have been challenges to developing effective programmes. We hope our findings will help in development of accessible, scalable and affordable interventions," said Jessica L McCurley from Harvard University in the US.
The study involved over 600 employees of a large urban hospital in the US who regularly used the hospital's cafeterias. Using cafeteria purchasing data, the research team developed a healthy purchasing score (HPS) to rate the dietary quality of employees' overall purchases.
The researchers compared participants' HPS with the quality of their overall diet as well as to measures of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The analysis showed employees with the lowest HPS had the lowest overall dietary quality and the highest risk for obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, said study.
Healthier purchases were associated with higher dietary quality and lower prevalence of obesity, hypertension and pre-diabetes/diabetes, said the study.