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Is Your Job Making You Fat?

Written by kumaran   // May 30, 2011   // Comments Off

women on desk

Obesity takes its toll on the workplace, but the workplace also contributes to the rise in obesity, according to a study in the May 25 online edition of the journal PLoS ONE.

Statistics show that almost 30 percent of Americans are obese (BMI of 30 or above) and that the related cost of that obesity hit $270 billion. Of that, $72 billion accounts for loss of productivity due to total disability, $49 billion in worker productivity due to higher rates of death, and $43 billion in lost productivity due to disability of active workers.

“Overweight and obesity have been shown to increase the rate of several common adverse medical conditions, resulting in this extraordinary economic cost to society,” according to Don Behan, author of a recent study for the Society of Actuaries. A new study pinpoints the impact that the workplace has on the habits and resulting weight gain that the workplace plays on Americans. The trend toward sedentary jobs and long hours without available leisure time is taking its toll on waistlines and health.

Americans have migrated from an agrarian and manufacturing society, and we now find that a high percentage of workers sit at a desk and stare at a computer. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that being inside tied to a chair burns significantly less calories than that of a farmer who has animals and fields to tend to or an auto worker who is maneuvering car parts and working on a quick assembly line.

The lack of exercise is compounded by the daily addition of calories, which add up in a hurry. Quick sandwiches laden with mayo, a double burger with cheese and fries, an afternoon Frappuccino as a pick-me-up. The food is less healthy and eaten in larger amounts (BIG Mac, VENTI lattes, SUPERSIZED sodas).

The study, from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, cross-referenced U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on the prevalence of different jobs with a large national database that includes information on body weight. They found that only one in four Americans is doing the recommended level of exercise.

Fitness expert Kristen DeLeo wrote in a recent article that, “Experts agree that to maintain good health, at least 30 minutes of normal daily physical activity should accompany your accumulated 2.5 hours of weekly vigorous exercise. But our modern lives have us completely at a disadvantage when it comes to being active. Progress and technology have made our lives so convenient, little physical effort is needed to get through a typical day.”

To stem the tide, Americans need to make more of an effort to take the stairs, walk the dog, get to the gym, and to make better choices about food and the amount they consumer. The simple fact is that calories in and calories out need to be even on a daily basis to maintain weight. Spend a few days tracking your daily activity and calorie count. I’ll be you will be surprised at how lopsided it really is.

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