J Nutr Health.  2019 Dec;52(6):593-603. 10.4163/jnh.2019.52.6.593.

Understanding how organizational environments affect food intake among employees in South Korea

  • 1Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Hallym University, Chuncheon 24252, Korea.
  • 2Department of Family Medicine, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul 03181, Korea. eunjusung68@gmail.com
  • 3Center for Human Nutrition, Global Obesity Prevention Center, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205-2179, USA.


Previous studies have highlighted that the nutritional behaviors among South Korean workers are far from ideal. This study examined the organizational influences affecting the eating practices of office workers in South Korea.
We conducted in-depth interviews with 22 office workers at 12 companies in South Korea. The interviewer inquired about the employees' daily routines on food and beverage intake. The various factors that influence their food choices in their work environments were also explored. The interviews were transcribed and then analyzed using a content analysis.
A framework analysis revealed 7 key recurring themes, and these were grouped under three levels: team-, company-, and corporate group-levels. First, team dinners are core social events for all the workers and they tend to include high-caloric food and alcoholic beverages. The frequency of team meals and the food associated with them depend on various team characteristics such as gender composition, the nature of a team's work and the team leaders' emphasis on group meals. Second, the company's policies and practices regarding budget allocation for team meals and subsidies for cafeteria meals affect the workers' food intake practices. In addition, the physical environment of the worksite cafeterias can influence the choices of foods. Third, various corporate group policies that were not designed to target food intake had additional positive effects on the workers' eating behaviors.
This study provides important insights into the broader organizational influences on the food consumption of employees in their workplace. These insights can be used to design and implement more effective intervention strategies for improving the nutritional behaviors of office workers.


organizations; food environment; workplace; diet; qualitative research

MeSH Terms

Alcoholic Beverages
Feeding Behavior
Qualitative Research


  • Fig. 1 Framework for organizational influences on food intake among office workers at one corporate group in South Korea.


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