Is Your Job Making You Fat?
I recently posted an article on the CDC obesity cost calculator, a website component that allowed employers to calculate business costs related to overweight employees. The calculator was designed to assess prescriptions, hospitalizations, and days lost from work. The site was recently taken down after complaints were issued about workplace discrimination.
In some cases, employers offer useful programs to overweight or obese employees that promote lifestyle modification, competitions for weight loss and fitness, and incentives that reward workers for improving their health. Given the options of calculations or a humanistic approach, the better choice seems clear — especially since a person's job may contribute heavily to weight gain.
The Workplace and Your Waistline
A 2013 Harris Interactive survey of more than 3,000 workers showed that 41 percent of those surveyed said they had gained weight in jobs they currently hold.
The workplace has become a less physical environment through the years. Many employees spend the better part of their day sitting behind a desk. In a CareerBuilder survey, workers cited sitting at a desk for the better part of the day as the number one reason for weight gain, although a 2013 British study did not find a strong correlation between the two. Having a desk job may be a contributing factor to weight gain but by no means the only factor.
The workplace can also be stressful, and stress can be a catalyst for weight gain. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol promote fat and sugar cravings as well as the retention of fat around the midsection. One 2014 study found that work-related stress is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Job demands can lead to extended hours in the workplace if the workload becomes heavy or deadlines must be met. A University of Pennsylvania study showed that workers who got only four hours of sleep a night for five consecutive nights, gained more weight than people who got eight hours. This was mainly due to the consumption of extra meals of higher calorie foods.
Long commutes are also a factor for weight gain. The average American spends about 50 minutes each day commuting to and from work and 86 percent do so by car. A 2014 study showed that people who take public transportation or walk or ride a bike to work have lower BMIs than those who go by car.
Finally, there is a lack of wellness programs being offered to employees. A Hampshire College review found that only 25 percent of large companies and 5 percent of small businesses offer comprehensive wellness programs. The reasons stated for the modest numbers are cost concerns and employer contention that they do not wish to meddle in the personal lives of workers.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life