Workers: Jobs Are Making Us Fat

Work-related stress can cause myriad health problems. Here's what you need to know.

Workers: Jobs Are Making Us Fat Photo (cc) by The Shopping Sherpa

If you feel overweight and suspect your job might have something to do with it, you’re not alone.

An annual CareerBuilder survey of more than 3,000 American workers associates job-related stress and weight gain. The percentage of workers who feel they are overweight and their stress levels are as follows:

  • Workers with extremely high on-the-job stress levels: 70 percent (feel they are overweight)
  • High stress levels: 66 percent
  • Neutral stress levels: 53 percent
  • Low stress levels: 52 percent
  • Extremely low stress levels: 47 percent

The factors that workers say contribute to their weight gain at their current job include sitting at the desk most of the day (cited by 56 percent), being too tired from work to exercise (43 percent) and eating because of stress (37 percent).

On the other hand, factors that contribute to weight loss include exercising at least three times per week, which helped 52 percent of respondents lose weight at their current job; and taking advantage of company gym or wellness benefits, which helped 45 percent of respondents lose weight.

Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, states in a press release:

The health of a company’s workforce is a paramount issue for many employers, as neglecting it can significantly dampen workplace morale and productivity… There’s a clear incentive to make wellness and work-life balance a focus of organizational culture, and we’re encouraged to see many companies making them a priority year-after-year.

But while 27 percent of workers have access to employer-sponsored wellness benefits like onsite workout facilities or gym passes, only 37 percent of those workers take advantage of the benefits, the survey found.

If you need further incentive to be more active, consider that weight gain is but one of many potentially harmful effects of work-related stress.

Short-term effects of work stress can include headaches, stomachaches, sleep problems, short temper and difficulty concentrating, according to the American Psychological Association.

Longer-term effects of chronic stress can include anxiety, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.

The American Institute of Stress reports:

In New York, Los Angeles and other municipalities, the relationship between job stress and heart attacks is so well acknowledged that any police officer who suffers a coronary event on or off the job is assumed to have a work-related injury and is compensated accordingly (including heart attack sustained while fishing on vacation or gambling in Las Vegas).

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Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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