Call center workers' diet: Fast food, caffeine, and alcohol


Posted at Aug 05 2010 10:35 AM | Updated as of Aug 06 2010 02:15 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Less regular mealtimes and high consumption of caffeinated drinks and fast food characterize the diet of workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, a study by the University of the Philippines (UP) Population Institute revealed.

The UP Population Institute study, entitled Lifestyle and Reproductive Health Issues of Young Professionals in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, focused on the profile and lifestyle of young workers in the call center and non-call center industries in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

The study, conducted between September and November last year, revealed that less than half of call center workers (47%) regularly eat 3 meals a day.

The study also revealed that compared to other workers, more female call center workers skip meals--40% skip breakfast, 20% skip lunch, and 16% skip dinner.

The study also found out that there is a "high level of consumption of chips, burgers, fries, and fried chicken" among the workers, but there was a fewer number of them who consume instant noodles and street food regularly.

Fried chicken was the most popular food choice among the BPO workers, with 78% saying that they consume it regularly, followed by chips (54%), fries (53%), and burgers (49%).

High caffeine intake

Highly-caffeinated drinks are a staple of BPO workers' diets, the UP study revealed.

In all, 2/3 of young workers drink coffee daily, but call center workers drink more coffee that their non-call center counterparts (2.3 cups a day for call center workers vs 1.7 cups for the latter).

More call center workers also consume tea (1/4 of respondents), compared to non-call center workers (only 1/5).

The study also revealed that half of young workers drink soda daily, at an average of 1.5 bottles/cans a day, regardless of group.

However, energy drinks are not as popular: only 15% of young workers drink energy drinks daily, the study found out.


Meanwhile, call center agents prefer drinking over partying, karaoke gimmicks, or other leisure activities, the study revealed.

The UP Population Institute survey showed that overall, 72% of call center agents surveyed said their most common leisure activity is drinking, compared to partying (62%) or videoke gimmicks (59%), the top 3 activities mentioned.

The same pattern is seen among non-call center workers, but the percentages are lower (51% for drinking, 39% for partying, and 31% for videoke).

The study said that overall, "there is a very high level of current drinking among workers (85% for call centers, 87% for non-call centers)."

Beer is the most commonly preferred drink by workers, with male call center workers (86%) having the highest number of respondents saying they prefer the said drink.

The study also revealed that call center workers usually have co-workers as their companions when drinking.

The study focused on young workers 18-34 years old who have at least completed sophomore year in college, who are working in shifts.

A total of 929 respondents from Metro Manila and Metro Cebu were involved in the study.

The study dealt with lifestyle, social life, sexual relationships, and health questions. -- Kris Danielle Suarez,