Weight Gain Remains High Among U.S. Workers

By SHRM Online staff May 16, 2011
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Employers might be working with leaner staffing budgets, but the same can’t be said for many employees’ waist lines.

Forty-three percent of 5,671 full-time workers in the U.S. have gained weight in their current job, according to a survey conducted Feb. 21-March 10, 2011, for CareerBuilder.com.

The findings are similar to surveys conducted in 2010 and 2009. In 2010, 44 percent of 4,803 workers who responded to the poll, and in 2009 43 percent of 4,435 respondents, had gained weight in their jobs. And in 2009, SHRM Online reportedthat obesity ratesamong U.S. adults had increased in 23 states.

Among those surveyed for CareerBuilder in 2011, workers cited the following factors for their weight gain:

  • Sitting at a desk most of the day, 36 percent.
  • Stress, 24 percent.
  • Eating out regularly, 16 percent.
  • Skipping meals because of time constraints, 13 percent.
  • Workplace celebrations, 12 percent.

However, 18 percent of workers lost weight in their current jobs, up slightly from 16 percent in 2010.

“While many employees still struggle to lose weight, it’s encouraging to see that more workers are embracing healthier habits at the office,” CareerBuilder’s vice president of HR, Rosemary Haefner, said in a news release.

Most organizations are aware of the impact that employees’ unhealthy behaviors have on the company’s bottom line and their own quality of life, she added. More than one-fourth of employers try to encourage a healthy lifestyle by providing gym passes, workout facilities or other wellness benefits, she said.

She said that low-cost methods employees can use to fend off those creeping pounds include:

  • Taking a brisk walk. It burns calories and clears the mind for improved focus.
  • Planning meals for the week to cut down on the frequency of eating out and better control of portion size and food choices.
  • Drinking water or some other healthy beverage. Sometimes thirst is mistaken for a snack craving.
  • Getting a health buddy at work that can motivate you to take those walks or go to the gym, helping you avoid the temptation of office birthday cakes and cookies.
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