Food choices and nutrient intake of workers in the hospital canteen of San Daniele del Friuli, Italy
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University of Udine, Department of Medicine, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Friuli Centrale
University of Udine, Medical Directorate, Hospital of San Daniele-Tolmezzo, “Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Friuli Centrale”, San Daniele del Friuli, Udine, Italy
University of Udine; Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Friuli Centrale, Department of Medicine, University of Udine, Udine, Italy; Accreditation, Quality, and Clinical Risk Unit, “Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Friuli Centrale”, Udine, Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A787
Background and Objective:
Recently, the awareness of the role that food play in human and planetary health has grown. Although the nutritional and environmental benefits of plant-based diets are widely recognized, little is known about the availability of healthy foods in workplaces. Our aim was to evaluate food choices and nutritional composition of the meals consumed in a hospital canteen in Italy.

An observational study was conducted in San Daniele del Friuli hospital on 5 working days in September 2022; photos of lunch trays of all workers who agreed to participate were taken before and after the meal. Energy and nutrient intakes were assessed after visual estimation of wastes using the Italian food composition database for epidemiological studies ( Recipes and portions were provided by canteen staff. Intakes were compared to the Italian Dietary Reference Values (DRVs).

480 photos of 240 meals were analyzed. Overall, the lunch met the DRVs. The meals contained a median of 642 (511–826) kcal (men: 781 kcal; women: 607 kcal), of which 18 (15–23)%E came from proteins, 34 (27–39)%E from fats, 44 (37–50)%E from carbohydrates, and 2 (2–4)%E from fiber. About half of the participants consumed high fats and low carbohydrates. Vegetarian meals (N=30; 13%) contained high amount of fats (41; 37–48%E) and saturated fatty acids (10; 8–17%E), as meat was usually replaced with cheese. Vegan options (N=15; 6%) consisted mainly of soups, rice, vegetables, and fruits and were low in energy (599; 449–645 kcal) and protein (13; 9–15 g/tray vs. 34; 25–42 g/tray in omnivorous meals).

We observed inadequate nutrient composition in vegetarian and vegan meals. Dietary education interventions are needed to promote healthier behaviors. However, poor food choices may be partially attributed to the lack of variety of vegetarian/vegan alternatives offered in the canteen.