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About The Buzz: Poor Dietary Habits Are Linked to Subpar Work Performance?

TheBUZZ : Poor dietary habits are linked to subpar work performance?

Unhealthy lifestyle choices are correlated with decreased productivity at work … and more frequent and longer sick leave.


Feeling groggy, tired, unmotivated at work? Minus the quick coffee fix, there are two sure ways to get more energy—eat well and exercise. How can this help?

Being physically active elevates endorphins which can increase your energy; you should couple this with nutrient-dense foods (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) to maintain steady blood sugar levels. Why is this important? Steady blood sugar levels avoid the crash associated with high-sugar foods (such as soda, sweets, refined grain products) and provide you with consistent energy instead. Nutrient-dense foods also provide nutrients to your body to help it run efficiently, including promoting a healthy immune system to prevent illnesses like the common cold.

A big concern in this economy is work performance and finding strategies that positively influence the work environment. New research suggests that unhealthy lifestyle choices can contribute to decreased productivity and motivation at work.


A study reported in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine compared the work performance of those who led unhealthy lifestyles with those who led healthy lifestyles. The study found that unhealthy activities/situations such as smoking, obesity, insufficient physical activity and insufficient fruit and vegetable intake attributed to more than 10% loss of productivity at work and more frequent and longer sick leave. In particular, obese workers who lead an unhealthy lifestyle were 66% more likely to call in sick for 10 to 25 days and 55% percent more likely to take time off for 25 days or more when compared to normal-weight workers. The study concluded that lifestyle intervention may have a noticeable contribution to maintaining a productive workforce.*


While this evidence is not conclusive, we do know that an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to many problems including lethargy, increase susceptibility to getting colds and weight gain. Leading a healthy lifestyle can lead to overall health, more confidence, and higher motivation.

Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle

    • Eat a well-balance diet—fruits, vegetables, lean protein (like chicken and eggs), foods low in saturated fat and added sugars, and low-fat dairy products. See our Healthy Menu Ideas.
    • Meet your daily recommendation for fruits and veggies. See How Much You Need
    • Be physically active most days of the week—this doesn’t mean you have to go to a gym! Learn What You Can Do
    • Get enough sleep—preferably 8 hours or more.

Try doing this for a few weeks to see the change in energy and enthusiasm. Maybe this change will have a positive effect on all aspects of your life, including work!


*Robroek, Suzan J., Tilija I. J. van den Berg, Jan F. Plat, et al. “The Role of Obesity and Lifestyle Behaviors in a Productive Workforce.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2010): doi:10.1136/oem.2010.055962.

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