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Feature Articles: Eating Well


Is Desk Dining Healthy?         

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD,
Nutrition and Health Education Specialist
Barton County, University of Missouri Extension



We would like to think that every working person has the time to take a thirty minute to full hour away from their desk for a relaxing lunch. According to the American Dietetic Association, that is simply not the case. It is estimated that as many as 70% of Americans eat lunch at their desk several times per week. You can eat a healthful diet if you eat at your desk but be aware that you are not the only living creature eating there.


A study conducted by Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona found that in offices there is 100 times more bacteria than on a kitchen table and 400 times more than the average toilet seat. The most germy places, in order, are phones, desktops, and keyboards.


Keep in mind that if you eat at your desk, you are contributing food for bacteria to thrive. To prevent growth and spreading of germs and bacteria, you need to clean your phone, work area and keyboard often to decrease exposure to these potential illness-causing bacteria. Make sure you use a disinfecting or sanitizing solution. A damp cloth will just spread the germs around. Keep in mind that hands spread a lot of germs. Wash your hands often.


From a nutritional standpoint, eating at your desk is potentially an unhealthy habit. If you are working at the computer, you may not pay attention to the amount of food you are eating and overeat. People who eat at their desk may also be in such a hurry that they are grabbing something quick from a vending machine that doesn’t represent the most healthy choice. Eating at your desk also means that your body doesn’t get the opportunity to move around.


You can eat at your desk and be healthy. It just takes a little time. You really should wipe down your desk area before and after you eat to keep the germs away. Then, plan for your desktop dining experience. Plan and prepare your meals at home. This allows you to pack the correct portion size and that keeps you from overeating. It also allows for you to consume a well-rounded meal that contains protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Make sure you store that lunch in the refrigerator. Food stored at room temperature can grow harmful bacteria. If you store food around your desk, make sure it is packaged well so that you do not invite crawling pests to your area.


So, enjoy that sandwich at your desk! Just take precautions to assure you are the only one eating it.





Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








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