Sugar overload? 5 Workplace initiatives to promote healthy eating

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Keeping your workforce fit and healthy can be a challenge. Here are our suggestions on ways you can promote healthy eating in your workforce and encourage your employees to reduce their intake.

Sugar and Health

High sugar foods are high in calories. Consuming too much increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, tooth decay and gum disease. There is also a suggestion that a diet high in sugar may be linked to cancer.  Those employees who are obese will also be at risk of diabetes. Eating or drinking anything that has been processed or manufactured is likely to have added sugar. It is not just sweets, fizzy drinks, cakes or chocolate treats, there can be sugar in various different guises lurking in ready meals, sauces and popular takeaways. 

The way sugar acts inside the body has an immediate effect, it causes blood glucose levels to spike and then quickly plummet. This may result in mood swings, fatigue and headaches. High intakes of sugar can also increase the release of stress hormones causing anxiousness, irritability and making you shaky. Depression may also occur with a high sugar diet.  

12.3 million people in the UK are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.*

80% of cases of Type 2 diabetes is preventable through the adoption of a healthy lifestyle ** 

Eating a healthy well-balanced diet of vegetables, fresh fruit and whole grains can make positive changes to health and daily living. It is advice we have all heard before, but how as an employer, can you help or influence your employees to make lifestyle changes?  

Workplace Initiatives to Promote Healthy Eating

  1. If you have an onsite restaurant or vending machines improve your visibility and offering of healthy choices. Reduce high sugary choices, and have water readily available rather than sugary drinks. Review healthy swap suggestions to help plan changes. 

  2. Provide healthier options at meetings and events. Leading by example is simple but effective!

  3. Have fresh fruit at strategic points in the workplace, although fruit does contain sugar it also contains a lot of other important nutrients. There is therefore still plenty of value in the old school ‘an apple a day’ approach helping everyone achieve their 5 a day quota. 

  4. Enable access to cooking and healthy eating courses. Time or money constraints can often be reasons why people don’t cook from scratch, therefore providing access to a selection of healthy recipes that are quick to make that don’t break the bank. 

  5. Use Occupational Health services to deliver health and wellbeing days to advise individuals who may be at high risk or have expressed an interest in improving their eating habits. These health professionals can undertake blood glucose screening where appropriate and advise on diet plans. 

For many, consuming sugar has become a part of everyday life and changing perceptions and habits is just as important in the workplace as it is at home. Action is needed to reduce the statistics mentioned above. Has your organisation run any initiatives that have reduced sugar consumption in your employees? 

Why not download our resource ‘10 steps to eat your way to better health’ and share it with your colleagues or display in your workplace. 

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* Diabetes UK

**International Diabetes Federation