Work from home snacks see Britons consuming 800 more calories compared to office days

Woman pictured consuming snacks while working from home. (Getty Images)
More than a third of employees who work at home admit to consuming snacks even when they aren't hungry. (Getty Images)

The ability to work from home is valuable to many employees due to the flexibility it offers them. However, a new survey has revealed that the practice, which soared in popularity during and after the COVID pandemic forced most workers out of the office, might contribute to weight gain.

The survey carried out by fitness tracking app MyFitnessPal, which involved 2,000 hybrid workers, found that Britons consume nearly 800 more calories and walk 3,500 fewer steps on average on days they work from home, compared to when they head into the office.

More than half (60%) of respondents were aware that they ate more unhealthily at home, and 45% admitted they often don’t leave their home at all when they work from home.

Survey participants were asked to log all the food they ate throughout a day of working from home, including snacks, with results revealing that on average, respondents consumed 2,752 calories.

During a typical office day, they consumed 1,961 calories, 791 fewer calories compared to the alternative.

On work-from-home days, more than a third (36%) of employees admitted to snacking even when they weren’t hungry, and claimed to consume five snacks a day compared to three when working in the office.

They were also asked to use their smartphones or smart watches, such as Fitbit or Apple watches, to record the number of steps they took daily. The data revealed that an average of 4,518 steps per day were logged by employees who worked from home, compared to an average of 8,087 steps per day walked during an office day.

The results come after a global survey revealed earlier this year that British employees spend more time working from home compared to their European peers, logging an average of 1.5 days a week from home compared to the international average of 0.9 days.

Read more: London has highest levels of working from home (Yahoo Finance UK, 3-min read)

How many calories a day should you consume?

According to the NHS, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.

However, the “ideal” daily intake will vary depending on factors such as age, metabolism and levels of physical activity.

A woman wearing a striped top and orange bead necklace eats a salad bowl while she works on her laptop at home
Making healthier snack choices can reduce the amount of calories you eat while working from home. (Getty Images)

Can I snack everyday?

Snacking is a normal part of everyday eating patterns, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) has said, and can be a healthy part of your diet if chosen wisely. However, there can often be temptation to snack frequently or excessively, which could lead to unwanted weight gain and other unhealthy habits.

"Snacks provide energy for your activities throughout the day and can contribute valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre," the BDA says on its website, adding: "Some snack foods can be a source of extra fat, sugar and salt, so choose carefully and keep portion sizes sensible".

Read more: This is the worst time of day to snack, according to nutritionists (HuffPost UK, 2-min read)

What is a healthy snack?

It is recommended that you choose snacks from the following food groups to ensure you get a healthy range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Fruits and vegetables

  • Carrot, pepper or cucumber sticks with hummus

  • Chopped melon or pineapple

  • Frozen grapes

  • Edamame beans

A variety of fresh, raw vegetables including celery, carrots, cucumber and peppers, cut into sticks and placed in glass cups
Vegetable sticks with hummus or a reduced-fat dip make a great healthy snack at home. (Getty Images)

Starchy carbohydrates

  • Plain or fruit scone

  • Wholegrain cereal with semi-skimmed milk or plant-based alternative

  • Half a bagel with low-fat cream cheese

  • Slice of wholemeal/seeded toasted bread with low-fat spread and yeast extract

  • Two rice cakes with hummus or soft cheese


  • Small bowl of bean salad

  • Roasted chickpeas or beans

  • Hard-boiled egg

  • Slices of apple with nut butter

  • Small handful of mixed nuts

Close-up of a bowl of mixed raw nuts.
Mixed nuts provide plenty of protein in a snack. (Getty Images)

Dairy or plant-based alternatives

  • Low-fat yogurt

  • Reduced-fat cheese and plain crackers

  • Fruit/vegetable smoothie with semi-skimmed milk or plant-based alternative

What snacks should you avoid?

Ironically, foods that we usually consider to be snacks - such as crisps, chocolates, biscuits and sweets - are often high in fat and sugar or salt, and are not the healthiest options.

You can still eat these snacks in small amounts occasionally, but it is recommended that you balance your snacking out with healthier alternatives such as those mentioned above.

Read more: Why taxing 'junk food' to tackle obesity isn't as simple as it seems (The Conversation, 5-min read)

Are there other ways to snack less at home?

As working from home is a big part of many people’s lives, it is important to ensure that you surround yourself with healthy snacks instead of foods that are high in fat and sugar or salt.

The BDA suggests trying to buy less nutritious snacks while you do your shopping so that they do not tempt you while at home. You can also encourage yourself to eat healthier by making sure you display the more nutritious alternatives around your home.

For instance, arranging reduced-fat yoghurts and vegetable sticks at the front of your fridge, or having a bowl of fruit on display, can help you notice the healthy options first.

You should also try and think of your reason for snacking before reaching into the cupboard. Having a snack because you are hungry or about to exercise later in the day is better than snacking just because the food is there or out of boredom.

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