We must have heard this expression, “We are what we eat.” Probably we should raise this question that do we eat what we want, or we follow the people? Well, new research has found that what we eat at our lunch is influenced by people around us at our workplace and co-workers who eat with us.
What’s For Lunch? Often, It’s What Your Co-workers Are Having
And this is true whether the food we have is healthy or unhealthy for us. “We have found that a person tends to copy others food choices in their social circles and it explains the obesity spreads by social networks,” said Douglas Levy, first author of Mongan Institute of Health Policy center at MGH in Boston. This study examined food choices influenced by social for around 6,000 medical employees in seven MGH canteen for two years. These participants were from diverse backgrounds of different ages.
To examine how healthy the meals had by people, researchers focused on the own cafeteria of hospital labeling system. It designates the foods and drinks as green as health, yellow as less healthy, red as unhealthy. To get the details of individual’s particular food choices, they used data by identification cards which are used for paying their bills.
The researchers examined that how often people ate their meals in similar timings over a couple of weeks and how much time was taken between two people who brought food from the cafeteria. They had surveyed around 1,000 workers and asking people to confirm their names where investigators also identified their lunch partners. “If two people make the order within two minutes apart of each other are more likely to be known as compare to those who make the order within 30 minutes”, Levy added.
Researchers found the result based on around three million experiences between pair of employees are connected and consume more alike food than different food. The effects of the results were stronger for the healthy foods as compared to unhealthy foods. Later, the investigators analyzed all data to examine if results would be the evidence of those social influences and not because of two people who ate together with the same food preferences who had the same lifestyle.
The main author added that their findings could inform the public health interviews to avert obesity. One of the options will be for the offer will not be two cheeseburgers instead of two salads for one for the pairs making their food choices. Also, other would be the influential person in one social circle to make choices for healthy foods.
One co-author of the study, Mark Pachuki, is an associate prof. Of sociology of the University of Mass. Amherst mentioned, “As this pandemic will be over and we will be back in in-person activities, we will get an opportunity to share our experiences regarding healthy food and we can also influence our co-workers to eat healthy foods and make it a habit.
It will shape us as well as our co-workers to choose to change a habit of eating unhealthy and junk food”. The researchers also found that consuming alcohol, gaining weight, and other activities are also influenced by our social circles.