Falling prey to the break room brownies (or bagels... or cupcakes...) is just a matter of proximity, says new study.

By Macaela Mackenzie
Updated: May 13, 2016
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Free food is a major work perk. But while having a fully stocked office kitchen with daily deliveries from the hottest local bakery may sound like a dream, it can be a nightmare for your waistline. Luckily, keeping your cravings in check might be as simple as rearranging the snack area, says a new study published in the journal Appetite.

To figure out how to provide the kind of culinary indulgences that make an office so attractive to Millennials without causing an office obesity epidemic, Google executives asked consumer behavior researchers at Saint Joseph's University and Yale University to help figure out the healthiest way to provide perks. (Psst... We've got Health Tips from 10 Top Corporate Wellness Programs.)

To tackle this question, the researchers conducted a field study of snacking behavior at Google's New York office to see how the location of free snacks in relation to free beverages would impact employees' overall consumption. They found that the closer the snacks were placed to the drinks, the more people tended to eat-even a difference of a few feet mattered. (Find out What Your Food Cravings Mean.)

The proximity effect totally makes sense when you think about it. You might head to the kitchen with the intention of getting a glass of water or low-cal cup of coffee, but cave and grab a cookie since it's right there and all.

The good news: There's a super easy fix to keeping all that mindless munching at bay. Ask if your office can keep the healthiest options near the coffee machine and water cooler (try one of these 5 Office-Friendly Snacks That Banish the Afternoon Slump) and store the more indulgent treats out of sight in the pantry or fridge. If this isn't an option, keep a stash of water or big thermos of coffee at your desk so you won't have to face the temptation in the kitchen as often.

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