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

Sohyun Park, Eunju Sung, Joel Gittelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusion: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-603
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nutrition and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019


  • Diet
  • Food environment
  • Organizations
  • Qualitative research
  • Workplace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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