Healthy eating in the workplace
The majority (63%) of adults in England were classed as being overweight or obese in 2018 (NHS Digital, 2020). Each year poor diet causes around 90,000 premature deaths. Younger generations are becoming obese at an earlier age, and are staying obese into adulthood. It is a troubling issue that concerns many employers.
Cost of obesity to businesses
Obesity has a serious impact on economic development. The overall cost of obesity to the wider economy is estimated at £27 billion (PHE, 2017).
From a business perspective:
obese employees take more sickness absence leave than workers of a healthy weight. On average, this equates to four extra sick days per year (NICE, 2012)
diet can affect day to day performance and productivity. Low and fluctuating blood sugar levels can shorten attention span and can slow information processing
but eating regular, well-balanced meals and drinking plenty of water as part of a healthy lifestyle can help employees to maintain their overall health, wellbeing and productivity
employees in good health can be three times more productive
For more statistics on obesity and the food environment, please see the infographic below:
Ways to encourage healthier eating in your workplace
We consume a third of our daily calories at work. This means businesses have an exciting opportunity to support and encourage healthier food and drink choices.
Ways to encourage healthy eating:
have a healthy eating policy in place. Ensure all staff are aware of it
provide staff with access to a clean eating area, with the use of a fridge, kettle and microwave
encourage (and provide) healthier food choices that are lower in saturated fat, sugar and salt, and higher in fibre, fruit and vegetables. Don't forget about vending machines or visiting sandwich vans
promote national campaigns and guidance around healthy eating such as:
Support in Staffordshire
Everyone Health Staffordshire
Everyone Health Staffordshire offer a free healthy lifestyle service to Staffordshire residents. This includes support to help people lose weight and to get more active. Please note, some restrictions do apply.
They also offer a free healthy workplace service to some businesses in Staffordshire, to support employees to stay healthy. Restrictions do apply, so please contact Everyone Health to discuss if your business may be eligible.
NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme - Staffordshire
Staffordshire residents who are at high risk of Type 2 diabetes may be eligible for free support from the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.
Resources to promote healthy eating in the workplace
Take a look at these useful guides, websites and campaigns to help encourage healthier eating in your workplace.
Toolkits and guides:
Produced by Public Health England, this toolkit offers practical advice on how to make catering affordable, healthier and more sustainable. It is useful to all businesses that have canteens, vending machines, or even mobile catering services, like sandwich vans, visiting their organisation.
Business in the Community has partnered with Public Health England to produce this simple and informative toolkit. It aims to help employers of all sizes to achieve a healthier working environment, by encouraging staff to eat well and move more.
The Eatwell guide covers the government’s recommendations on eating healthily and achieving a balanced diet.
Campaigns, websites and apps:
The British Heart Foundation’s website contains a wealth of information and resources on healthy eating. Take a look at their 'dieting myths', facts about 'food labelling' and there's even a yummy 'healthy recipe finder'!
This campaign aims to encourage millions of adults to kick start their health and reduce their risk of serious illness, including Covid-19. This includes an app for the free 12-week NHS weight loss plan.
This website contains information on a range of topics related to eating healthily, such as how to 'shelve sugar', 'eat less salt' and 'cut back on fat'.
It also has some great tools to help people to eat healthier, such as the One You ‘easy meals’ app, if you’re in need of some cooking inspiration!
For your employees with families, this great website gives loads of friendly and informative tips on healthy eating. It includes food facts, delicious family recipe ideas and fun activities the whole family can do together. All inspired by some much loved Disney characters!
Don’t forget to download the Change4Life ‘food scanner’ app for free, to find out how much sugar, sat fat, salt and calories are really inside your food and drink!
Find out about a range of issues related to healthy eating. Such as top tips on getting your 5 A Day, info on takeaways and some excellent weight loss resources like the free 12-week NHS weight loss plan.
There are an increasing number of health and wellbeing apps available. We are making it easier for you and your employees to find apps that can help you to stay healthy and well with our health and wellbeing app finder tool. This includes the top rated apps for healthy eating.
Staffordshire Connects is our easy to use directory. It provides details about hundreds of different care, support and wellbeing organisations, local activities, clubs and community groups taking place across Staffordshire.
You can find a range of local weight management/healthy eating support services within the 'Adults and Communities' section, under 'Health and Wellness'.
Take a look at our physical activity in the workplace page for ideas on how to support your employees to improve their physical activity levels, as part of a healthier lifestyle. This will complement any efforts that you’re undertaking on healthy eating.
Get in touch
Let us know what you're doing on healthy eating in your workplace by emailing workplace health.