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​Does this job make me look fat? New survey looks at weight gain at work

CareerBuilder | July 19, 2018

Weight gain survey

Have you gained weight at your current job? You're not alone.

Your bank account may not be the only thing that’s getting bigger with every paycheck – your waistline may be expanding, too. A new survey from CareerBuilder looks at the correlation between work and weight gain, and you may be surprised by the results.

According to the survey, nearly half of U.S. workers (45 percent) believe they’ve gained weight at their present jobs. Of these workers, 1 in 4 say they’ve gained at least 10 pounds in their current position, and 1 in 10 say they’ve gained 20 or more.

Weighing in on the causes
As for what’s causing Americans to pack on the pounds, the answers are as varied as gourmet doughnut flavors. If you’ve read any of the recent reports on the negative health effects of sitting all day, it should come as no surprise that the majority of workers (53 percent) blame at least part of their on-the-job weight gain to the sedentary aspects of their job. Nearly the same amount (49 percent) say they don’t have the energy to work out, while a third (34 percent) say they can’t find the time.

It’s not as if workers aren’t trying to keep their weight in check, however. The majority of workers (58 percent) say they exercise “on a regular basis.” Of this group, 29 percent work out three or fewer days a week, and the same amount work out four or more days a week. Of the 42 percent of workers who don’t work out regularly (or at all), nearly half (48 percent) fall into the category of workers who have gained weight at their current job.

But lack of exercise isn’t the only problem. Poor eating habits are also rampant among workers. Two in 5 workers (41 percent) find themselves eating as a result of stress. It also doesn’t help that nearly a quarter of workers (23 percent) eat out at least three times per week instead of bringing a lunch from home, and 21 percent can’t resist the temptations of the office candy jar.

How to burn calories while burning the candle at both ends

It’s easy to understand how work can lead to bad habits that cause weight gain. After all, who has the time or energy to go to the gym after working a nine-hour day? Or plan a healthy, well-balanced meal? However, weight gain can affect more than just the way your pants fit: It can also affect your mood, stress and energy levels, which can ultimately bleed into your work performance. If you feel like your job is causing you to gain weight and affect your health, try the following tips to keep the pounds at bay.

  • Know your benefits. More and more companies are offering wellness benefits to help employees take control of their health, such as corporate gym memberships, on-site wellness workshops and smoking cessation programs. Ask your HR department what benefits are available to help you reach your health goals.
  • Abide by the 60/3 rule. If you work a desk job, you’re probably sitting for long periods of time, which can drain you both physically and mentally. Set a reminder for yourself to get up every 60 minutes and move around for at least three. Even short, but frequent breaks can help you alleviate any aches and pains from sitting, while re-energizing you for the rest of the day.
  • Ask for flexible hours. Thanks to mobile technology, it’s easier than ever for employees to work remotely or outside of the usual 9-to-5 work day. Ask your boss if you can work out a schedule that better fits your lifestyle, which may help you achieve a better work-life balance and ease the stress that can lead to weight gain.
  • Pack your lunch. Nearly a quarter of workers who’ve gained weight on the job attribute it to eating out at lunch. Bringing your own lunch to work will not only cut down on the extra calories that are hidden in your takeout meals, it will also help you save money. (Bonus!)
  • Snack smart. The vast majority of workers (72 percent) snack throughout the work day, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided they’re eating the right foods. Along with bringing a lunch from home, keep healthy snack options like fresh fruit and yogurt nearby, so you’re not hitting the vending machine every time a craving hits.
  • Use your lunch break wisely. Use your lunch break to go for a walk, and do it outside if possible. The exercise, combined with some fresh air and vitamin D, will provide multiple health benefits, from stress relief to increased energy to a better mood.

Read the full survey here.