Workplace caterers can have a directly positive impact on the health of workforce staff, a study by foodservice firm Charlton House and Gatwick Airport has found.
Staff blood glucose levels and cholesterol were also significantly reduced, while employees reported feeling happier, sleeping better, feeling more confident in their abilities, and more satisfied with their exercise and leisure activities.
Food on offer included high-fibre options such as porridge, and high-protein ingredients including eggs, pulses, fish, and lean meat. In addition, staff were given advice on diet, physical activity and motivation, and received a pedometer, which tracks the number of steps an individual takes. The caterer also added signposting on-site to encourage healthier choices.
The findings were published on 1 January in professional nutrition magazine title Complete Nutrition.
Caroline Fry, chief executive of Charlton House, explained that workplace interventions could help increase employees' performance at work, aid their personal wellbeing, reduce absenteeism due to illness, and also help reduce obesity-related problems overall.
She said: "We can play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of employees. The number of meals eaten outside the home is continuing to rise and issues such as weight management remain at the top of the nation's health agenda. Everyone benefits from any successes we enjoy."
Independent nutritionist and co-author of the report, Amanda Ursell, said that a holistic approach to diet and exercise could positively influence employees' wellbeing. Dr Carrie Ruxton, who helped design and analyse the project, added: "We spend most of our waking hours at work so workplace interventions really do have the capacity to make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of employees."
Part of CH&Co, Charlton House caters for more than 20,000 staff across Gatwick Airport in total. It has recently worked to improve the healthiness of its food offer, having signed up to the Public Health Responsibility Deal as well as stating its success in reducing salt, sugar, and calories from its meal recipes.
CH&Co - whose other brands include Lusso, Chester Boyd, and Ampersand â' also runs an internal calorie-counted competition called Under 500 Calories, which this year crowned commis chef Roxy McDonagh as the winner.