At a time when the world is slowly awakening to the idea of healthy living, all thanks to COVID-19. There is a frightening reality that needs to be addressed by us collectively. According to a recent study, 63 per cent of Indian corporate-sector employees are overweight. Promotion of a healthy and balanced diet is vital for the prevention of overweight, obesity and several chronic diseases.
The focus has shifted from considering healthy food patterns as a mainly private issue to recognising the responsibility of us as a society, including worksites, in creating healthy environments and conditions that support and promote healthy eating habits at workplaces who are progressively working towards improving their workforce’s quality of life and output by promoting and assessing a change in their canteen meal’s nutritional profile and sustainability.
Besides improving our dietary intake at work, worksite health promotion initiatives may also lead to improvements in the lifestyles of UR employees and their families should also be carried outside of the workplace. While some offices and factories have resumed their services, this gives us the perfect opportunity to assess our canteens to make a sustainable shift.
A study conducted in 2019 by HealthifyMe-a health and fitness app, covered the working-class corporates from major Indian cities like Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Delhi, Kolkata and even the remote areas such as Vapi in Gujrat. The eating habits and activity of about 60,000 Indian workers from various sectors in finance, banking, marketing etc. were analysed. Surprisingly, this year-long study stated that a whopping 63 per cent of corporate employees across India are overweight, and their body mass index (BMI) is above 23! This study was an eye-opener to make changes in the food provided at MNCs and SME canteens.
Did you know that according to the World Health Organization, the Body Mass Index (BMI) of a healthy person should range between 18.5 and 24.9; a person with a BMI above 25 is defined as overweight, and those with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered to be obese.
How Can Workplaces Be Mindful Of Their Canteens, the Environment & Their Employees’ Health?
The overall aim of inculcating healthy eating practices has a deeper meaning. Along with health, we must also think about how canteen meals are more sustainable in terms of sourcing our ingredients, teaching healthy food choices, portions, while keeping sustainable living as our priority.
Here are a few ways SMEs & MNC’s can assess their canteen meals and protocols to become more sustainable collectively.
- Source locally-sourced foods. This is key to supporting our farmers, our planet, improving our food intakes, adds a range of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains in our diet.
- Review food safety management system plans such as lab testing reports, training reports, cleaning and sanitation records. Food handlers medical report, raw material log report and kitchen equipment( refrigerator, cutlery, oven, blender, etc.) calibration records to determine whether all the equipment being used is sanitised and maintained properly.
- Sanitisation and food safety handling training sessions can help in training food handlers in MNC’s & SME’s by our nutritionists.
- Understand, study and analyse the nutritional profile of the canteen meals. This can be done with the help of our nutritional experts who can help in determining the ideal ratios and types of ingredients which can be modified according to the health requirements. This can also help employees understand where they can make sustainable shifts in their daily food choices, eating patterns and food portions not just at work, but in their homes as well.
- Assess which food item is being wasted on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Discontinue the same to avoid food waste.
- Avoid using one-time-use plastics like plates, glasses, cutlery and plastic bags that increase garbage/waste and end up in our landfills.
- Use any leftover fruit and vegetable peels to make compost. This can be used to grow UR own produce, eliminating any chances of consuming any contaminated (pesticides-injected) food.
- Guide UR workforce by setting up nutritionist seminars/virtual conferences, which helps employees become more aware of making healthier food choices. It is more important than ever to build our immune system now to withstand these uncertain times.
This type of dietary change program has the potential for considerable access into communities and thereby contribute significantly to larger public health goals in reducing incidences of dietary-related diseases.
Did you know that The Pasona Urban Farm in Tokyo is a nine-storey office building which allows employees to grow and harvest their food at work? All of which, is supported and made possible with the help of a team of agriculture experts.
In Bangalore, The Manyata Business Park which houses over 90,000 workers across companies such as NVIDIA, Nokia, Cognizant and IBM, have been allotted small patches of land on which they can grow their crops. Now there are also hydroponic kitchen garden setups/startup kits, which give you the free will of growing UR own produce at home, at UR workplace or in your community.
This is novel evidence to support further action in worksites in enabling and promoting healthy eating patterns among employees across the contexts of workplaces.
Let’s all work together to reinforce sustainable practices starting from the grass-root level. If you want to assess your canteen at UR workplace, then you can consult our certified nutritionists to make a sustainable shift at UR workplace and enhance URLife.