The Health Risks Of Eating Behind Your Desk

Eating behind your desk: you are working on a project with a tight deadline that you really want to meet. And that’s why it feels good to keep working during lunch break. So you type with one hand and eat a sandwich with the other. Or the entire working day consists of consecutive meetings, so that you feel that lunch time is the only time to update your mailbox. Recognizable? Many office workers regularly eat at their desks for various reasons. But does it actually make you more productive?

One in five

Facility service provider Eurest has researched the lunch culture. The survey called European Eating at Work involved 9,477 employees from ten European countries. It turns out that one in five office workers in the Netherlands regularly eat their lunch behind the office & home desk. Which is one of the highest percentage among all participating countries. The most common reason for having lunch behind the desk is lack of time. In addition, many office workers are not aware of the health risks it entails, such as an increased risk of blood and vascular disease and diabetes.

I am busy, busier, busiest

“We live in a culture where people often feel they have to say that they’re too busy to break for lunch of that they have to present themselves to the world as being too busy,” Jane Ogden, professor in health psychology says. She is one of the researchers from the University of Surrey that found that people who ate while distracted tended to overeat. “If you eat at your desk whilst working, then the food you eat doesn’t fill you up as much. You don’t code food in the same way and you’re more likely to feel hungry in the afternoon and then eat more.” Which can lead to weight increase and diabetes. But that is not the only health risk to be aware of.

Be aware of the following

“We spend more than half of our waking hours sitting down,” says Recebba Roher, clinical fellow at BUPA UK. Sitting, eating and working for longer hours, is a combination that increases the risk of dying of a heart disease with 64%. While the risk of prostate or breath cancer increases by 30%. Even dying of an early death is twice as likely. Those are not numbers to take light-hearted. Yet we hardly think about it, because multitasking gives the idea of being more productive. But is that really the case?

Being an eight year old

Multitasking at your desk may seem like a timesaver but it will affect your productivity. The quality of your work has diminished returns. As the more tasks you do at the same time, the more the brain has to divide its attention to be able to perform. And by splitting your attention the level of intelligence goes to that of an eight year old. And although eight year olds can be very bright, your office job requires an adult brain that is put to work wisely. Research also shows that the less you multi task, the more a team player you are.

Effective working relationships

Researcher Brian Wansink, of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, says in an interview with The New York Times Magazine: “Job satisfaction is much higher when you eat with colleagues. You like your work more and you like your colleagues more. ”

In addition, having lunch together online or outdoors, has a positive effect on work performance and ensures that colleagues work better together.  It is the perfect opportunity to get to know your colleagues better and, above all, in a different way. Which strengthens the bond with each other. And in turn ensures a more effective working relationships.

So next time you find yourself eating behind your desk challenge yourself to not work but connect with colleagues or step out of the (home) office and go for a walk. Or try this chair workout.

Chair workout

A chair is the most widely used office utility worldwide. Besides sitting on it, you can also use it for a quick and effective workout. At OnlineFitCompany we create workouts for office workers to stimulate their overall wellbeing in a fun and productive way.

Sources: Eurest New York Times | CBRE

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