Health Health & Well-Being Psychology

Nutrition and working life

Well-being at work is a major issue in our society today. It refers to the physical, psychological, emotional and social health of employees in their working environment.

Alice Casati

Alice Casati

Psychologist specialised in Work and Organisational Psychology
from the University of Tours, France
Currently a volunteer psychologist for the NGO IASIS in Athens

Well -being at work is a major issue in our society today. It refers to the physical, psychological, emotional and social health of employees in their working environment. According to the joint definition of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), occupational health has three distinct objectives

– To maintain a high degree of physical, mental and social well-being of employees.
– To prevent the risks to which employees are exposed in the workplace and thus protect them from harm.
– To maintain employees in a job that is adapted to their physiological and psychological capacities.

Psychosocial risks

Despite the legal obligation to develop a psychosocial risk (PSR) prevention approach, a growing number of employees report suffering from PSR-related symptoms. Generated by employment conditions and organisational factors likely to interact with mental functioning, they represent risks to mental, physical and social health.

In the long term, work situations where these risks are present can lead to various disorders such as stress, concentration problems, sleep problems, irritability, severe fatigue or eating disorders. Eating disorders (EDs) are widely associated with work situations where PSRs are present.

Working conditions and nutrition

Working environments vary greatly: individual offices, collective offices, factories, outdoor work, teleworking, etc. Working conditions and environments influence the way workers eat.

Most workers eat half of their main meals at work because of the distance from home and the practice of working all day. It is necessary to pay attention to particular working conditions that predispose to nutritional disorders: shift work, night work, work in cold or hot environments, intense physical work, frequent business trips with business meals, etc.

Nutritional health at work must take into account the examination of specific nutritional needs but also the places where employees take their meals. Workplace food hygiene, the pace, quantity and quality of food intake need to be carefully considered to avoid nutritional imbalances.

Good eating practices in the workplace

In order to opt for good dietary practices, it is important to respect the distribution of food during the day, to have a place to eat separate from the workplace, to have sufficient break time and to limit the amount of food eaten during breaks. The dietary rules also recommend a balanced distribution of the three main types of nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats), avoiding excessive intake of fats and fast carbohydrates (fried foods, pastries, sweetened drinks), and ensuring a varied diet (meat, vegetables, fruit and dairy products).

Conclusion
Under the effect of changes in the world of work (reduction in rest time, individualisation of work, increased demands, etc.), consideration of psychosocial risks has become essential. Prevention in companies must take into account the promotion of good eating practices in the same way as the prevention of other occupational risks. Healthy eating in the workplace should be a concern for employers and occupational medicine, as it influences working conditions and subsequently the health, safety and productivity of workers.

Bibliography

  • ANSES – Agence Nationale de Sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’Environnement et du Travail, (2016). Actualisation des repères du PNNS : élaboration des références nutritionnelles.
  • Gollac, M et Volkoff, S. (2000). Les conditions de travail. Paris, coll. Repères. Edition de la Découverte.
  • Grosjean, V. (2004). Santé et bien-être en entreprise. Quelles possibilités d’action pour l’Institution Prévention ? Contribution à un ouvrage collectif consacré à la Qualité de Vie au Travail et coordonné par la Société d’Ecologie Humaine et le GDR 2150 du CNRS.
  • Lambert J.L., Poulain J.P., (2002). Les apports des sciences sociales et humaines à la compréhension des comportements alimentaires, revue La santé de l’homme, Paris, INPES, n° 358.
  • Rolland, J.P. (2000). Le bien-être subjectif : revue de question. Pratiques Psychologiques, No1 5-21.

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