'Poor diets affecting regional workforce'

29-08-2009 09:44 PM

Ammon News - By Mohammad Ghazal
The Jordan Times

AMMAN - Almost one-third of professionals across the Middle East are overworked to the point that they manage to eat only once a day, according to the results of a recent online poll.

In the "Eating Habits in the Middle East Workplace” poll, conducted by job website Bayt.com, 28 per cent of workers said they normally eat one meal per day, often consisting of fast food and late at night.

The online survey, which included a total of 12,368 respondents from across the region, showed that 26 per cent of employees were “not very healthy”, managing to “sometimes” have lunch and snacks during the day, while 21 per cent of respondents said they are “healthy enough”, and manage to pack a lunch or snacks from home.

"Eating one meal a day affects the productivity of employees, their focus, well-being and causes mood swings," nutrition consultant and dietician Tatyana Kour told The Jordan Times in a phone interview on Monday.

It is important for employers to ensure that workers follow a healthy lifestyle and eating habits, she said, as a poor diet negatively affects productivity and makes employees more susceptible to illness.

"Employees should focus on having some snacks throughout the day," Kour stressed.

Results of the poll, conducted from May 31 through July 13, indicated that 17 per cent of professionals manage to eat “fairly healthy”, making it a point to eat at least two meals during the course of the workday, while 8 per cent considered themselves “very healthy”, sticking to a daily diet of four to five small meals.

“Eating healthy, at regular intervals, is something that is scientifically proven and widely promoted for overall general physical and even mental health and well-being. But the results that more than half of the region’s professionals do not come anywhere close to these healthy eating guidelines,” Amer Zureikat, regional manager of Bayt.com, said according to statement received by The Jordan Times.

"This is a very important issue for employers to address: Aside from the long-term implications that eating irregular and unhealthy meals can have on an individual’s health, a poor diet can cause lethargy, loss of concentration and mood and behavioural changes in the workplace,” he added.

Bad eating habits amongst the region’s workforce have also led to expanding waistlines, the poll showed.

It indicated that while 18 per cent of professionals have stayed the same weight since they started their career, almost two-thirds of workers, some 59 per cent, have gained up to 10 kilogrammes or more.

Weight loss in workplaces across the region was also significant, according to the survey, which indicated that 14 per cent of respondents lost up to five kilogrammes, 4 per cent have lost up to 10 kilogrammes, while 5 per cent have lost more than 10 kilogrammes since they started working.

The poll also showed that just over half considered themselves as fairly to very active, indicating that 22 per cent of respondents become so tired during the day, they are unable to exercise after work.

“More than one-fifth of employees are so exhausted by the time they finish work that they cannot possibly exercise. This should perhaps sound employers’ alarms,” Zureikat said.

The trend of work tiring employees to the point of inactivity continued into the weekends, according to the poll. Approximately 29 per cent said that by the end of the week they were too exhausted to put more effort into being active on the weekend, while 18 per cent said they aim to work out during the weekend but are often unable to due to exhaustion.

However, 32 per cent of professionals considered themselves as “very active” and engage in sports and outdoor activities throughout the whole weekend, and another 22 per cent said they make it a point to engage in physical activity for at least one day a week.

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