A quarter of Brits (28%) binge on sugary foods when stressed out at work, a new study shows.
Office workers (32%) are the most likely to turn to sugary treats due to stress at work.
Senior professionals like doctors, lawyers and accountants are also highly likely (31%) to consume sugary food.
‘Ultimately it is to the employer’s benefit to tackle unhealthy comfort eating as a result of stress,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation (OHF), which carried out the study, said.
‘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.
‘It’s important to encourage healthy eating and to develop a more tooth-friendly culture in the workplace.’
The OHF claims 15% of UK workers have taken sick leave in the last two years due to oral health issues.
It believes this equates to businesses losing 3.6 million hours in work time costing £52 million.
Sugar-filled foods have a feedback effect that dampens stress-related responses and emotions, the OHF says.
‘Snacks such as cheese and nuts are better than sugary treats,’ Dr Carter continued.
‘Milk and water is a great substitute for juices and fizzy drinks.
‘Reducing the amount of sugar added to tea and coffee can make a big difference.
‘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.’
More than half (58%) of Brits feel having bad teeth would negatively affect their confidence at work.
Women were more self-conscious, with 67% saying poor oral health would affect their confidence, compared to 49% of men.
Generation Z are the age group most conscious of their teeth, with 69% admitting it would affect their confidence.
‘Dental cover is the most popular voluntary health benefit offered,’ Andrew Bower, managing director at Unum Dental, who carried out the research, says.
‘This research emphasises just how important dental insurance can be for an employee’s confidence and their workplace performance.’