Better nutrition in the workplace can raise productivity, reduce sick days, and cut the number of accidents, according to a study by the International Labor Office of the United Nations.
In the United States , where over two-thirds of the population is overweight, the annual economic cost of obesity for insurance, paid sick leave, and other payments is $12.7 billion, according to the study.
The study looked at workplace nutrition around the globe, finding that malnutrition in developing countries and excess weight and obesity in industrialized nations is costing countries up to 20 percent in lost productivity,
"Poor meal programs and poor nutrition underlie so many workplace issues: morale, safety, productivity, and the long-term health of the workers and nations," says Christopher Wanjek, the author of the study. "Wealthy nations face the staggering cost of chronic diseases and obesity. Neighborhood intervention isn't working. Providing healthy food at work is the best way to get people to eat at least one healthy meal a day."
The study includes case studies demonstrating effective "food solutions" from a variety of enterprises in 28 industrialized and developing countries. Examples include a successful meal voucher systems instituted in Brazil and France, employer partnerships with local food vendors in the United States and South Africa, as well as suggestions for cafeterias.
You can order a copy of the Food at Work study at the ILO's website.