There’s no need to sugar coat it, as a nation, we have a sweet tooth. Hardly a day goes by without a warning in the media about how we should be cutting down on our sugar intake.

Evidence from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey published in May 2014 shows most people in England eat more sugar than is recommended as part of a healthy diet. This can lead to weight gain, which can ultimately result in other, more serious health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Scientists in America recently found that high sugar levels affect a key area of the brain that causes the heart rate to quicken and therefore blood pressure to rise[1]. Earlier this year the World Health Organisation recommended that people should halve their sugar intake, limiting consumption to around six teaspoons a day to avoid obesity, heart disease and other serious illnesses.

But it’s not just junk and comfort food that’s the issue – a lot of other foods, such as certain types of fruit, milk and even juices contain hidden sugars. So how can employers help their employees stay healthy and reduce their sugar intake?

Sugar intake at work

Bringing cakes or biscuits into the office every so often can certainly be a morale booster, but it’s worth bearing in mind that what we consume at work accounts for a third of our daily calorie intake, according to the NHS. Therefore, what we eat from nine to five can have a big impact on our general health as well as our work performance.

The NHS recommends we consume fizzy drinks, chocolate, cakes and crisps in moderation and that we should strive to get our energy from starchy foods and a variety of fruit and vegetables instead.

Rather than taking the extreme step of forbidding your staff bringing sweet treats into the office, these simple ideas will help ensure employees don’t go for the wrong type of sugary foods when they find their energy levels lagging:

Water: Not drinking enough water can lead to headaches and dehydration, which can make people more likely to seek out a sugar fix. Make sure fresh cold water is easily accessible in your office by installing a water cooler – perfect for generating conversation, as well as ensuring your employees stay hydrated!

Fruit boxes: Fruit contains hidden sugars (fructose), which is the good type of sugar we should be aiming to consume. Indeed, we need some sugar in our diets to supply energy to fuel our muscles and keep our brains active. As an employer, perhaps consider signing up to a weekly fruit box delivery.

Nuts and dried fruit: A small serving of nuts and dried fruit can keep hunger at bay, reducing the chances of employees reaching for a chocolate bar. However, people should opt for nuts that are salt-free and bear in mind that they’re high in calories so you only need a small handful to reduce your hunger levels. There are a number of well-known suppliers that offer a great selection of healthy snacks in the correct portion sizes that can be delivered straight to your office.

However, healthy eating is just one part of the story. Workers can also stay fit and healthy by exercising during their lunch breaks. For more tips on this, read our blog on keeping your staff and your business healthy.

By implementing these small changes into your business you can demonstrate your commitment to supporting the health and wellbeing of your employees. An employer paid health care cash plan from Sovereign Health Care is an affordable and simple way to help keep your employees healthy. From just 93p per employee, per week your employees can claim money back towards a range of health costs, helping them to afford their everyday health care.

[1] Study conducted by Dr James DiNicolantonio in New York and Kansas.
Cited in the American Journal of Cardiology (September 2013)

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