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Add Steps, Reduce Snacking

Free snacks can boost morale and destroy diets. But there’s a simple way to keep them in the office while cutting back on the costs.

By Tom Jacobs


(Photo: iStockPhoto)

Many factors contribute to the obesity epidemic, but an overlooked one may be just down the hall from your desk: those donuts, cookies, and chips neatly arrayed in the office break room. Free snacks can boost morale and destroy diets. Happily, recent research published in the journal Appetite suggests a small office re-design could help enormously.

A team led by Ernest Baskin of Saint Joseph’s University conducted an on-site study at Google’s New York office. The facility’s “micro-kitchen” featured two sets of refrigerators and coffee machines — one roughly six feet from the snack counter, the other around 17 feet away. Over seven days of observations, researchers found the likelihood of employees’ grabbing something to eat increased dramatically — from 12 to 23 percent for men, and from 13 to 17 percent for women — when they used the beverage station set up closer to the free treats.

So if your workers’ waistlines are expanding faster than the company’s product lines, keep those Fritos far from the fridge.