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Working it On

Published Friday Apr 8, 2016

If you feel like you’re gaining weight sitting behind your desk, you’re not alone. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 55 percent of U.S. workers feel they’re overweight, and 44 percent of workers say they’ve gained weight in their present job.

When asked what they felt contributed to their weight gain at their current job, 53 percent say “sitting at the desk most of the day,” 45 percent say they’re “too tired from work to exercise” and 36 percent of workers say “eating because of stress.”

The national survey was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll and included a representative sample of more than 3,000 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

Is stress to blame?

Survey results reveal a strong association between on-the-job stress levels and workers who say they’re overweight:

  • Extremely low stress: 41 percent
  • Low stress: 52 percent
  • Neutral stress: 53 percent
  • High stress: 60 percent 
  • Extremely high stress: 77 percent 

While a quarter of employees have access to employer sponsored wellness benefits, including onsite workout facilities and gym passes, 55 percent of this group doesn’t take advantage of them.

 “Workers are becoming more and more health conscious, but due to higher stress, longer work days and constant multitasking, it is more difficult to find the time to act on wellness goals,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “To make wellness at work a priority, companies should emphasize its importance from top leadership down and focus on engagement, motivation, support and strategy when implementing new programs.”

Survey data show that workers who managed to lose weight at their current job tend to snack and eat out less, exercise more and take advantage of their employers’ wellness benefits. Even leaving one’s desk for lunch may encourage healthier habits.

Who’s gaining the “office 15”?

Women (49 percent) are more likely than men (39 percent) to report gaining weight at their present jobs. 

Workers in management roles (49 percent) are almost equally likely as workers in non-management roles (43 percent) to report weight gains at their present jobs.

Workers in the middle of their careers appear more prone to weight gain than younger or mature workers. 47 percent of workers ages 35-54 reported gaining weight at their present job, compared to 40 percent of workers ages 18-34 and 43 percent of workers 55 And older.

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