Time to ditch the lunchtime chips? Cutting your meal size in the office canteen by just 14% can help you to shed the pounds, study finds 

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  • Researchers made menu changes in 19 workplace cafeterias across the UK
  • They cut portion sizes and swapped high-calorie items for low-calorie items.
  • Simple intervention by workplace cafeteria could help reduce obesity statistics

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It’s often easy to overeat in the workplace cafeteria at lunchtime after a morning driven by a solid work appetite.

But a new study from researchers at the University of Cambridge suggests that your company can help reduce your risk of becoming overweight by making small changes to its menu.

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In experiments, researchers swapped options in 19 British workplace canteens, by swapping some high-calorie products for lower-calorie foods and reducing portion sizes of high-calorie products by 14 percent.

They found that both changes in combination resulted in an 11.5 percent reduction in the average number of calories employees purchased per day.

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Academics say overeating is a form of unhealthy eating and plays a major role in rising rates of obesity.

Study from University of Cambridge researchers suggests that workplace cafeterias can cut portion sizes to help prevent obesity

What is Calorie?

Calorie is simply a unit of energy.

There are two main definitions of calorie in widespread use. The ‘small calorie’ (calorie) is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.

The kilocalorie (kcal), widely used in nutrition, is the amount of heat required for the same increase in one kilogram of water.

The basic amount of calories an average adult should consume in a day is 2,000 kcal for women or 2,500 kcal for men.

It is based on the amount of energy that the body needs to perform basic functions and to move and function throughout the day.

People who exercise a lot need to eat more for fuel, and young people and children burn more energy, too.

If you eat more calories than you burn in a day, you will become obese. You will lose weight by eating fewer calories than you burn.

Foods that are processed and contain high levels of carbohydrates, sugar and salt contain more calories than fresh fruits and vegetables.

Example calorie calculations include:

  • McDonald’s Big Mac contains 508kcal
  • Two-finger KitKat has 106kcal . It happens
  • A banana contains 95kcal
  • 47kcal in an apple. It happens

Source: NHS

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This in turn increases the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and several cancers, which contributes to increased rates of premature death worldwide.

Study author Dr James Reynolds, from the Behavioral and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘On average, UK adults consume an additional 200-300 calories a day.

‘This study suggests that reducing portion sizes in cafeterias and the availability of high-calorie options can contribute significantly to reducing excess calories in strategies to combat obesity.

‘If cafeterias in workplaces, schools and universities implement these changes, it could help reduce over-consumption of calories and support broader efforts to reduce population-level obesity.’

For the study, the Cambridge team worked with workplace cafeterias located in the distribution centers of a major UK supermarket chain, which they did not disclose.

These cafeterias were used by 20,327 employees, 96 percent of whom were in manual businesses.

The study took place over a longer period – 25 weeks – and used more sites than previous studies, making it the ‘largest study of its kind’.

Over a 25-week period, working with caterers, they replaced some of the high-calorie food and beverage products with lower-calorie products—for example, swapping bacon and cheese burgers with grilled chicken burgers.

This reduced the average number of calories purchased per day by 4.8 percent.

Next, along with reducing the availability of high-calorie food and beverage products, the team also reduced the portion sizes of some high-calorie products by about 14 percent — for example, a small piece of lasagna or chips. serving, or reducing the number of meatballs in one portion.

When both the availability and size of high-calorie food and drink portions were changed, this resulted in an 11.5 percent reduction in the average number of calories purchased per day compared to baseline (where no change was made).

The availability of high-calorie food and drink, along with reducing portion sizes of high-calorie food and drinks, appears to be the trick to motivating employees to eat less.

The availability of high-calorie food and drink, along with reducing portion sizes of high-calorie food and drinks, appears to be the trick to motivating employees to eat less.

What is obesity?

Obesity is defined by your body mass index (BMI) – a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height.

If your BMI is 30 or higher, you are obese. If it is between 25 and 29.9, you are overweight.

Standard Formula:

  • BMI = (Weight in Pounds) / (Height in Inches x Height in Inches)) x 703

Metric Formula:

  • BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))

Measurements:

  • Under 18.5: Weight
  • 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
  • 25 – 29.9: overweight
  • 30 or more: Fat

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For the typical worker, this would equate to eating about 50 fewer kcal (kcal) per day. One kilocalorie is the amount of heat required for the same increase in one kilogram of water.

What’s more, the cafeteria experienced only a small drop in the amount of money taken so far—a 2.6 percent drop when only options were available, and a 5.7 percent drop in portion sizes.

The researchers suggest that this may be a temporary effect, as the decline has decreased over time, and may be partly due to the fixed menu and product list required by the study.

Dr Reynolds said, ‘Cafeterias should be able to offset a small drop in revenue by changing the products they sell or by additional strategies to make healthier food options more attractive.

Workplace where the cafeteria…

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