Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Chefs lead on unhealthy habits

chef cooking stir fry
This looks healthy - but what does the chef eat when he gets home?

Chefs appear to have more unhealthy habits than any other profession while those in advertising are near paragons of virtue, a survey suggests.

The poll of 3,000 workers found chefs smoked the most and consumed two snacks of crisps or chocolate most days.

Farmers also fared poorly, smoking on average over 50 cigarettes and consuming 14 snacks each week.

But the ad man smoked just nine cigarettes and drank in moderation, closely followed by the teacher.

Insurance worker
Call centre worker
Truck driver
Travel agent

Some 3,000 workers - including more than 100 chefs, were questioned in an online poll carried out by healthcare insurer Medicash as to their eating, drinking and smoking habits.

On the heels of chefs and farmers came electricians, insurance workers and builders. Truck driver and call centre workers also made it into the top ten of unhealthiest professions.

Teachers meanwhile were not far behind those who work in advertising, while lawyers and secretaries also fared well.

Taken together, those polled consumed six alcoholic drinks and smoked 21 cigarettes per week. They enjoyed at least one snack a day, and had one take-away or ready meal a week.

Ad rep
Human resources assistant
IT worker
Shop assistant

''It may be surprising to see chefs at the top of the list, since you would expect them to be in the know when it comes to preparing a nice, healthy meal," said Peter Lauris of Medicash.

''But in reality, it's probably the last thing they feel like doing when they get home from work. After spending the day in the kitchen for work, I imagine they simply want to put their feet up when they get in at night."

Miles Quest of the British Hospitality Association said the findings in relation to the chefs should be treated with some scepticism.

"Most chefs eat a reasonable meal at work based on what is in the kitchen, so I'm not sure they're always popping ready meals in the oven when they get home. As for smoking, my overwhelming impression is that rates have fallen.

"Having said that there is no doubt that it is a pressured profession, working in a hot kitchen in what can be quite stressful conditions. But I do think most chefs make an effort to lead a healthy lifestyle as far as possible."

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