Stephen Onufrack, lead author of the study, said in his findings that "nearly one in four working adults obtained food at work during the week, and the food and beverages that they got added up to an average of almost 1,300 calories, more than half the recommended daily calorie intake for the average adult".
The study surveyed 5,222 employees across the US, asking what foods they got from their workplace during a seven-day period.
Researchers will present their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston this week, according to EurekAlert!.
Amico continued, "Americans are not consuming enough fruits, vegetables, and dairy and it can be challenging to meet those guidelines when you have a food environment that doesn't support it". Researchers found that most of the free food offered were things that add up "empty" calories like, pizza, soft drinks, cookies, brownies, and other candies. The food people get at work also tend to have high amounts of sodium and refined grains.
Stephen Onufrak, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues studied the food and beverages that people bought at work from the cafeteria and vending machines as well as those they get for free from common areas, worksite social events, and meetings.
The food tended to be high in empty calories, those from solid fats and added sugars.
Nearly a quarter of the study participants obtained food from work at least once a week, the results revealed. But the problem may lie with the "free" factor - an employer comping lunch, a co-worker bringing in leftover birthday cake could be doing a job on your health.
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The researchers found that the most common source behind this fat gain was free food which many people ate at work in the study.
What they are eating and drinking at work: Pizza, soda, cookies, brownies, cake and candy. On average, they consumed nearly 1,300 calories from workplace food on a weekly basis.
The data for the research was obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey. Researchers suggest that this can be done by using worksite wellness programs to promote healthy options that appealing at the same time.
Listing calories, and nutritional content, on vending machine and cafeteria items could also help deter employees from eating some unhealthier items.
"Employers can encourage healthier foods at meetings and events, especially when the employer is providing free food to employees", Onufrak told ABC.
Onufrak said, "We have salad, French fries, and pizza ... among that list, there weren't a lot of nutrient-dense foods".