NPR piece discusses the vast amounts of carbs, fat, and sugar Americans eat on a daily basis and what it’s doing to our waistlines. According to the USDA, the amount of food consumed per year is roughly 1,996 lbs per person.
It’s no surprise that Americans are overweight and not getting any slimmer, but the amount of processed, unhealthy fare we snarf down is truly impressive. Chicken, pork, turkey and beef consumption amounts to about 185 lbs while ice cream, yogurt, milk and cheese tip the scales at 630 lbs per person. The good news? The average American eats 415 lbs of vegetables each year. The bad news? Potatoes and corn are at the top of the list and lack the health benefits of nutrient-dense leafy greens.
Armed with this information, what can companies do to encourage healthier food choices in the workplace?
1. Offer healthier foods onsite. Revamp the snack room to reflect the wellness values of the company. Stock baby carrots and hummus instead of chips or pretzels, and oatmeal and fruit instead of candy bars or sugary cereals. Hungry employees will nosh on what is free and/or accessible.
2. Launch an office nutrition challenge that rewards healthy food choices. Offer incentives to employees who cook meals at home instead of going out. Give credit to those who bring home leftovers or award points to employees who regularly start meals with a small salad.
3. Host office activities that don’t revolve around food. Go for a celebratory walk with coworkers instead of birthday cake and soda. Take an office trip to a local museum. Or, start a company-wide flag football game.
At the end of the day, most of us simply need to eat less. Portion control is a difficult task when you're trying to eat well but it plays a critical role in carrying our nation to better health. Executive support can tremendously impact employee health and increase a company’s ROI, so help employees eat less and reap the benefits in the workplace.