Employers Get Serious About Feeding Workers Healthier Food

By James Daly
Tribune Interactive

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A growing number of companies including Microsoft and Google are hiring experts known as “dietary interventionists” to help them ensure employees are not overdoing it at the commissary whether the food is free or not.

Tribune Interactive

Tech startups and giants such as Google and Facebook may provide employees with all the healthful coconut water and seaweed snacks they can handle, but if their employees are reaching past the good stuff and just scarfing down corn chips and Diet Coke at their desks all day, all is not well.

Garbage in, garbage out, as the programmers say.

Studies show that 70 percent of Americans 20 and older are overweight; more than one-third (38 percent) are obese.

In the late 1970s, just 15 percent of Americans had reached obesity. In a generation, the average amount of daily calories people consume has increased dramatically, and much of that added intake comes at work, a place where perpetual grazing and hours of sedentary activity are the norm.

That has significant downsides for both personal and psychological health. A healthy meal can make anyone feel inspired and productive; a crummy one leads to fatigue and stress.

Obesity is associated with increased absenteeism and reduced productivity while on the job, which some call presenteeism. Add it all up, and obesity results in $1,429 higher annual health care costs for people who are obese, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a result, employers have a keen incentive to keep their staff healthy. That often begins with what they eat.

In the past decade, free meals and beverages have become a standard perk at many companies to lure the best talent in highly competitive markets.

Free meals offer a good return on investment. Consider an engineer at a high-flying tech company, who pulls down a salary of $150,000.

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