Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
The current epidemic of overweight and obesity has been partly credited to a growing trend for snacking and sedentary work behaviors. The purpose of this quantitative, cross-sectional survey was to investigate whether the difference between snack food reinforcement during work and non-work hours and work food motives predicted BMI among U. S. office workers. This study was based on the theoretical framework of the individual differences theory, in the context of the behavioral choice theory and reinforcement theory. The independent variables were food reinforcement and food motives; the dependent variable was BMI. Descriptive, correlational, and exploratory analyses were used. The survey was administered to a sample of 100 adult male and female office workers using SurveyMonkey. The results of the study determined that there was a statistically significant difference in food reinforcement during work hours versus non-work hours; however, only change in intensity was a statistically significant predictor for the workers' BMI class scores (p < .05). Moreover, during work-hours, office workers were willing to exert more effort (pay more) to obtain these snack foods than during non-work hours. An increase in work intensity was associated with an increase in the odds of being obese, with an odds ratio of 1.050 (95% C.I. [1.016, 1.084]). Food motives were not associated with BMI class scores (p < .05). These analyses have provided support for the hypotheses that food reinforcement is greater during work hours among office workers. As a result, they have significant positive social change implications which include relative policy changes within companies, tailoring the workplace environment to meet individual needs, providing healthier snack food choices, and increasing prices on high energy-dense foods. The workplace environment can provide opportunities for dietary, physical and worksite environmental change as well as individual behavior changes. It is important to continue to investigate how the workplace food environment may influence energy intake and weight-related behaviors to create awareness among this population. The more individuals and organizations know about these environmental food-related behaviors, the more opportunity they may have to take action in mitigating risk for weight gain during work and non-work hours.