Guess What American Workers Blame for Being Overweight?

Posted By Terri Williams on June 15, 2017 at 7:38 am
Guess What American Workers Blame for Being Overweight?

Fact: Americans spend at least one-third of each 24-hour weekday at work and – assuming an eight-hour sleep cycle – half of their waking hours on the job. Since jobs occupy such a prominent role, perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that many employees blame work for their bad habits.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 56% of American workers believe that they’re overweight, and they also believe their jobs are responsible. In fact, 25% of workers (overweight or not) believe they’ve gained more than 10 pounds at their current job, and 10% believe they’ve gained more than 20 pounds.

What do employees specifically blame for their weight gain?

51% Sitting at a desk most of the day
45% Too tired from work to exercise
38% Eating because of stress
38% No time to exercise before or after work
24% Eating out regularly
19% Having to skip meals because of time constraints
18% Workplace celebrations
16% The temptation of the office candy jar
8% Pressure to eat food co-workers bring in
4% Happy hours


Regardless of the work environment, there are ways for employees to develop healthier habits and stop the blame game.

Make a plan

According to Stacy Kaiser, a licensed psychotherapist and editor at large at Live Happy, employees have to actually work on developing healthy habits. “It takes an average of 4 to 6 weeks for people to integrate new habits into their lives,” Kaiser tells GoodCall®. She says workers must create a schedule and be committed to sticking to it. “If you are diligent about sticking to these new ideas, they will become a part of your lifestyle instead of something that you have to think about doing.”

Be prepared

Hungry workers are more likely to be tempted by the office candy jar, vending machine items, and birthday or retirement party cake. Eating a healthy meal for breakfast, and keeping healthy treats in your desk drawer or office refrigerator can help ward off temptation. Also, understand that multitasking increases stress – not productivity, and stress causes your body to release cortisol, which, in turn, increases your appetite. All this means you should prepare your workday in advance and prioritize what’s important.

Stay hydrated

Eric Chen, a nutritionist at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle, tells GoodCall® that staying adequately hydrated throughout the day can stave off false hunger pangs. Sometimes people think they’re hungry, but they’re actually dehydrated. Plus, an insufficient amount of water can produce other undesirable effects. “At least 75% of Americans are in a chronic state of mild dehydration, which can lead to a decrease in productivity, focus, and memory,” Chen says.

Keep moving

Michael P. Leiter is a professor of psychology at Acadia University in Canada and the director of the Center for Organizational Research & Development. Leiter tells GoodCall®, “Employers and workers share responsibility for workers’ health, and both gain from workers being healthy.”

And while gaining weight is bad, Leiter says a sedentary lifestyle results in more than extra pounds. Chen agrees and says, “With the rise of technology and computers, desk jobs are leaving people with back issues, tight hips, and poor posture.”

Ergonomic furniture, company gyms, and employer-based fitness plans can help workers to be more active. “But employees have to actively make use of these opportunities,” Leiter says. “No one can force another person to exercise or be active; they need to take it on.”

But it’s not as difficult as you might think to exercise while at work. “Add a simple 30-second stretch routine that you can do before sitting down at your desk,” Chen advises. “Sure, it may look goofy in the first few attempts, but your joints and muscles will thank you for the extra love.”

Chen also recommends combining healthy activities. “Make it a point to get up and even take the stairs to a different floor just to fill up the water bottle.”

Rally your support system

There’s safety in numbers, and Kaiser believes this extends to reversing unhealthy behaviors at work. “Often, if you get a group of people who are focused on staying positive and developing healthy habits, you have a better likelihood of being successful.” As an added bonus, Kaiser says this is a great way to create a sense of camaraderie with co-workers.

Be honest about who’s to blame

Workplace stress is a problem for many workers who are subject to heavy workloads and unreasonable expectations. But Leiter believes that sometimes people blame others and cite stress to avoid eating right and exercising. “While some people may be going flat out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, most people actually do have down time at work and outside of work,” Leiter says.  “It’s just easier to look at a screen or have a snack than to go for a walk or ride a bike.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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