Is the vending machine in your office playing a role in making you eat unhealthy and adding some extra pounds? Probably yes.
Many employees tend to eat more unhealthy food and consume more sugar and caffeine if they have access to vending machines in workplaces. Office canteens serving junk food are doing more damage to officegoers in the UAE which has a high prevalence of obesity and related diseases, experts said. Companies have been urged to provide vending machines and canteens that provide healthy food options for employees to cut down the intake of unhealthy food and beverages during office hours.
The call came as experts discussed the topic of healthy eating at workplace during a seminar organised by Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department as part of the GCC Food Safety Week on Sunday.
During a presentation, Danya Nasser, a clinical dietitian with Right Bite Nutrition and Catering Services which recently won the municipality’s Healthy Food logo for its full menu, said eating right at workplaces is crucial for employees since they spend eight to nine hours a day in offices.
“This is the place we spend most of our time. So, what we eat in office influences our health.”
Speaking to Gulf News later, she said companies in Dubai are increasingly becoming more conscious about employees’ health. “Corporate health programmes are on the rise in Dubai. Companies are organising wellness presentations for employees. They are arranging health talks and offering gym subscriptions.”
However, vending machines that give out sugary drinks, chocolates, chips and crisps in many corporate offices are doing the opposite.
“When you don’t bring your food from home, you will eat what is available in office. When you have vending machines and when it is free, it encourages people to consume unhealthy food,” observed Rasha Ali Al Suwaidi, senior food inspection officer at Dubai Municipality.
Office canteens selling junk food are also encouraging wrong eating habits at workplaces, she noted. “We have talked a lot about school canteens offering junk food. The problem is the same with office canteens also. There should be healthy options available in workplace canteens as well.”
Read more: Top ten tips for staying healthy at work
The experts urged companies to provide vending machines and canteens that offer healthy food choices. Instead of soft drinks, chips and crisps, they said office vending machines should provide fruit bowls, vegetable sticks, salads and sandwiches.
Nasser said employees should also be mindful about the coffee they consume from office vending machines. “The daily recommended allowance of caffeine is 400mg per day. One 250ml cup of coffee contains 150mg caffeine. So, it is important that you do not consume more than two small cups of coffee. Excessive caffeine causes heartburn, acid reflux and affects the sleep pattern. If you add more sugar and syrup, that will add up the calories. You need to be careful about that as well.”
Smart swaps to cut calories:-
- Cappuccino — Black coffee or green tea
- Dried fruits — Raw, fresh fruits
- Crackers with creamy dip — Raw vegetables with hummus
- Chips and chocolates — Salad bowls and sandwiches
- Soft drinks — Fruit juices
By Sajila Saseendran
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