Now that summer is well and truly behind us, and everyone is back at their desks, we thought we’d take the time to highlight a new study which seeks to explain our nation’s obsession with sugar. We’ve all heard a plethora of news stories about how children are the worst culprits for binging on sugary drinks and snacks, but research from a leading dental charity has found that working adults can be just as culpable when it comes to excessive sugar consumption.
The leading factor in sugar consumption in adults is, believe it or not, workplace-related stress. Those in work can be nearly 30% more likely to binge on sugar than those o ut of work. Office workers are the most likely to eat sugar-laden foods and drink, with 32% admitting they binge on sugar due to stress. Senior professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants are not far behind, with 31% stress-eating sugar. ‘Comfort eating’ has often been seen as an excuse to consume unhealthy foods, and this phenomenon actually has science to back it up- when we are stressed, our body releases a hormone called Cortisol, which increases our appetite. Fatty and sugary foods have been observed to have a feedback effect which dampens stress-related emotions and responses, so calling them ‘comfort foods’ has more than a kernel of truth to it! These foods counteract stress, therefore contributing to people’s stress-induced cravings for unhealthy food.
Businesses need to be more proactive when it comes to fighting the effects of stress on their employees. It is important to encourage healthy eating and to develop a more tooth-friendly culture in the workplace. Snacks such as cheese and nuts are better than sugary treats. Milk and water are a great substitute for juices and fizzy drinks, while reducing the amount of sugar added to tea and coffee can make a big difference. Ultimately it is to the employer’s benefit to tackle unhealthy comfort eating as a result of stress, especially as it is happening on work premises so frequently. Desk snacking, communal treat tables and vending machines (often filled with sugary foods and drinks) are the biggest contributors to the problem. This is causing oral diseases such as tooth decay, as well as wider conditions like diabetes and obesity.
By helping employees look after their oral health, the workforce will not only be healthier, they will be happier too. Importantly, it will reduce absenteeism for oral health issues, which has become a growing issue in recent years. 15% of workers have taken sick leave due to oral health problems in the last two years, and this statis
tic is only set to increase unless steps are taken to promote healthier eating in the workplace. It isn’t easy to break the feedback loop that leads to unhealthy eating habits at work, but both your mental and physical health will benefit from changing your outlook on how you deal with stress.
If you have any oral health-related problems, from workplace sugar binging or otherwise, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at Mount Oval Dental Practice. Simply call 021 489 8784 and we’ll book you in for an appointment as soon as possible, as your oral health is our priority.