*This article was updated May 2020.
How many times have you walked into the break room or vending machine area at work and been lured by a greasy bag of chips or a sugary candy bar? It’s almost too easy. And, you're not alone.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services External Site, an estimated 49.1 million people — including 16.7 million children — have reported limited availability to safe and nutritionally adequate foods (known as food insecurity) throughout the year.
And, the food that Americans do consume results in almost 90 percent of us eating more sodium than is recommended. On top of that, the number of fast food restaurants have more than doubled since the 1970s.
Reducing the sodium Americans eat by 1,200mg per day could save up to $20 billion a year in medical costs.
With the saturation of options featuring saturated fats, high sodium or excess sugar, it’s easy to see why it's projected that half of all adults in the United States will be obese by 2030. When unhealthy foods are the easy or only option, it's an uphill battle.
Right now only 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. External Site eats the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides important vitamins and minerals that can help protect against serious and costly chronic diseases, obesity, and other illnesses that force employees to take time off work.
But you can help change that.
Take the first steps to a healthier workplace
Changing how employees eat at work won't happen overnight, but small moves can make a big impact External Site. The American Heart Association External Site recommends these seven simple steps to improving the health of your workplace:
- Reduce or eliminate regular soft drinks and sugary beverages
- Offer fruit and vegetables with every meal option
- Don't serve butter
- Reduce or eliminate candy in vending machines
- Switch to whole-grain bread products
- Serve fruit instead of sugary desserts
- Don't serve fried foods
Download the American Heart Association's comprehensive toolkit for healthy workplace foods External Site to help you transform options from fatty to fresh and sugary to safe. It has ideas and guidance on everything from beverages and snacks to meals and special events.
By doing your part to make access to healthy and affordable food options easier, you're setting the foundation for a healthy workforce — and community.
Healthy eating for busy professionals
How many times have you been late to work because you snoozed your alarm one too many times, or had a tough time wrangling the kids out of the door that you had to grab a quick breakfast or skip all-together? What about being in back-to-back meetings all day that lunch was an option from the vending machine? And, how many times have you headed home from work and found yourself rolling through the drive through because you can't muster up the energy to make dinner? You've been there, and so have your employees. The food choices your employees make throughout the day are important. Their energy and productivity throughout the day is dependent upon their food choices being healthy, not filled with added sugars, colors or dyes.
Guess what? It's not difficult for your employees to make a healthy breakfast, pack a protein-packed lunch, or prepare freezer meals for dinner throughout the week. If you have employees who are struggling to make it happen, encourage and educate them on how they can make healthier choices throughout the day, consider these ideas to power up your workforce and share our roundup of ridiculously easy recipes (for every meal!) to get your employees to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Keep the momentum going
Are you interested in addressing overall well-being in your workplace, including employee health? Reach out to Wellmark's employer well-being and consulting services directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Send Email or contact your authorized Wellmark account representative to learn more.