Bringing your own lunch to work or eating in the company canteen is, on average, associated with a significantly healthier diet than ordering food from outside or visiting a restaurant.
A new cross-sectional study involving experts from the University of Tokyo in Japan examined the influence of where a lunch is prepared and eaten during work on nutritional characteristics. The results are published in the “Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine” (JOEM).
Effects of lunch examined
The team surveyed a total of 620 people aged 20 to 75 working in Tokyo using a validated dietary intake questionnaire. The participants’ lunches were then compared with the Healthy Eating Index 2015. This is a point system for evaluating the quality of nutrition.
When evaluating the results, the researchers differentiated between self-prepared meals, meals in the company canteen, meals in a restaurant and meals to take away.
Where do working people eat lunch?
It was found that 190 respondents prepared their own lunch at home, 77 participants reported eating their lunch in a canteen, 109 respondents reported eating their lunch in a restaurant and 244 participants ordered take-away lunch.
Eating in the canteen is the healthiest
When compared to the 2015 Healthy Eating Index, the team found that lunch in the company cafeteria was associated with the healthiest diet, followed by home-cooked meals at home.
The participants who ate in the canteen consumed more vegetables, potatoes and fish overall and also took in more different vitamins than those who ate lunch in restaurants or ordered take-away food, the researchers explain.
Higher nutritional quality
The experts add that participants who habitually consumed home-cooked food at work or ate their lunch in the company cafeteria tended to eat lunch with a higher nutritional quality than those who ate at restaurants or ordered take-out .
Diet in general has a significant influence on long-term health, which of course also applies to lunch during working hours, and the results show that the location and type of lunch have a decisive influence on how healthy the diet is overall, reports the team.
“This study is the first to examine the nutritional properties of lunch among Japanese workers. We hope that our results promote healthier eating habits among office workers, especially those who find it difficult to prepare their own lunch,” adds study author Professor Dr. Minami Sugimoto in a press release.
The results show that bringing your own lunch and eating lunch in a company canteen at work usually offer the healthier option, the researchers conclude. (as)