Despite Employers Promoting Healthy Behavior, Workers Continue to Celebrate with Sugary Foods and Devour Junk Foods from Vending Machines

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12th annual "Attitudes in the American Workplace" Poll by Harris Interactive for The Marlin Company.

While children across the nation are being denied junk food in schools, their parents are devouring cakes, cookies and other goodies at work despite employers' efforts to promote healthy living, according to a new national survey.

The survey conducted in May and June 2006 by Harris Interactive® for The Marlin Company,, the workplace communications experts, found that 53% of US workers report that their company encourages healthy behavior in its employees at least a moderate amount through information or resources about healthy living. But 74% of US workers say that sometimes, if not always, cake, cookies or candy are served for special occasions like a birthday or holiday.

Moreover, in the 2004 workplace poll conducted by Harris Interactive for The Marlin Company, 63% of US workers reported that vending machines at work mostly contain junk food such as potato chips, cookies and candy bars. Just 12% said that was not the case and 23% said they did not have vending machines at work.

"It's a shame that while companies are finally getting the message out to the workforce about maintaining healthy lifestyles, their employees are often being tempted to snack on junk food," said Frank Kenna III, president of The Marlin Company. "Why aren't companies backing up their positive behavior messages with healthy snacks and an environment that doesn't encourage workers to eat the wrong foods?"

While mid-(101-1000 employees) and large-size companies (1001+ employees)** are much more likely than small-size companies (1-100 employees) to provide their employees with information and resources about healthy living, employees at mid-size companies are more likely to celebrate special occasions at work with cakes, cookies or candy than those at small-size companies.

(Base: All Respondents)

% say company encourages healthy living at least a moderate amount Small company (1-100) 42% Mid-size (100-1000) 64% Large (1001+) 75%

% say food for celebrations is at least sometimes cake, cookies, candy or other similar type food Small company (1-100) 70% Mid-size (100-1000) 82% Large (1001+) 80%*

*The finding for large companies is not statistically significant.

Difference among how men and women view employee healthThe survey also found a difference in how men and women view their fellow employees when it comes to health. Asked "in general, would you say that the average employee in your workplace takes care of his or her health?" 29% of men compared to 20% of women answered no.

These are some of the results of The Marlin Company's 12th Annual "Attitudes in the American Workplace" survey of 751 U.S. workers 18 and older. The survey has a sampling error for the overall results of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. While junk food is prevalent in the workplace, many schools are banning junk food with some forbidding any sugary snacks in response to Congress' declaring that schools must establish wellness policies to continue receiving various forms of funding.

**Caution should be exercised when interpreting these results due to small base sizes (N = 96 for "Large Companies").


Harris Interactive® conducted the telephone survey in the U.S. on behalf of The Marlin Company between May 30 and June 15, 2006 among 751 U.S. adults ages 18 or older who are employed. Figures for age, race/ethnicity, education, income, and region were weighted, where necessary, to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

With a pure probability sample of 751, one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-3.6 percentage points. Sampling error for sub samples would be higher and would vary. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


The survey was conducted for The Marlin Company, a North Haven, CT., workplace communications firm, by Harris Interactive®, based on 772 interviews among a nationally representative sample of adult American (aged 18 and over) full-time and part-time workers. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. Harris Interactive conducted telephone interviews from May 20 to June 7, 2004. Figures for age, sex, race and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with actual proportions in the population.


For more than 90 years, The Marlin Company has been the Workplace Communication Experts T helping companies improve employee morale, productivity and performance through the innovative use of original, visually engaging content that is displayed in Communication Stations that can be managed through print or Internet distribution. Its stations, which contain content customized by industry, are helping more than 8,000 companies of all sizes improve workplace attitudes and behavior. Through its many years of experience, The Marlin Company has developed a strong database of, and experience in, issues affecting the workplace. It routinely surveys thousands of clients to determine their current issues, works with industry experts across North America, and conducts national polling. Since 1995, it has conducted its annual "Attitudes in the American Workplace" Labor Day poll. In the early years, the Gallup Organization conducted the polling. Harris Interactive has done so since 2001. For more information, please see

Wendy Marx

Marx Communications, Inc.

A PRSA Gold Mercury Award Winner



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