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July 3 2008 12:00 AM

Americans' struggle with weight has been a popular topic for years now, and it's no surprise considering that the National Center for Health and Statistics estimates 66% of American adults are either overweight or obese.

While you look at your daily habits, like eating junk food, driving instead of walking and watching TV rather than going for a jog, you might not realize how important your job is to your waistline.

Forty-five percent of workers have gained weight since starting their current jobs, a recent survey finds. Twelve percent have experienced a weight gain of more than 20 pounds, while 26% have gained more than 10 pounds.

Who's Gaining the Most Weight?

Although no demographic seems to be immune from workplace weight gain, 50% of women claim they have put on weight during the course of their current job, while 42% of men say the same.

In an industry comparison, financial services and government employees experienced the most weight gain, with 53% and 52%, respectively. The lowest weight gain was reported by retail and leisure and hospitality employees, with 36% and 41%, respectively.


Not surprisingly, even at work your diet plays an important role in weight gain. Thirty-eight percent of employees eat out at least twice each week, which means more temptation to pick up greasy fast food than if you had packed your own lunch.

Perhaps worse for your health is buying lunch from a vending machine, which 12% of workers do at least once a week. Sixty-six percent of employees have at least one snack every day, while nearly 25% have two or more.

Of course, one of the best ways to keep extra pounds at bay is to hit the gym. Unfortunately, only nine percent of employees make the trip during the workday. Employers are attempting to make it easier for their workers to get to a gym, however, as 28% of companies offer gym passes, on-site workout facilities or wellness benefits.

Even if you can't get to the gym on your lunch hour or do push-ups in your office, there are some ways to avoid workday weight gain.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Eating a hearty but healthful breakfast will keep you energized until lunchtime, and you won't feel the need to hit the vending machine for a mid-morning snack of chips and cookies. Include plenty of protein and fiber in your breakfast instead of sugar.

Behold the power of water. You might not realize that thirst and hunger are interrelated. If you feel snackish, you might actually be dehydrated. Drink plenty of water during the day so that you don't mistakenly quench your thirst with food.

Keep a journal. Having a handful of chips or a cookie here and there isn't so bad, but it can be if you do it repeatedly. It's easy to discount the number of calories in unhealthy snacks because we often eat them while doing other things, like talking with a co-worker. If you write down every snack and meal, you'll be able to see any overindulgence you might partake in.

Take a few extra steps. One of the easiest ways to stay fit is to opt for walking over technology or convenience. Instead of circling the parking lot until you find a spot near the building's front door, park farther away. Also, choose to walk to a co-worker's desk and have a chat instead of sending an email or making a phone call.

Stress less. If you can keep your stress level down, you might find yourself leading a healthier lifestyle. People tend to eat more when they're anxious or overwhelmed, even if they're not hungry. Incorporate as much exercise as possible to relieve stress and burn more calories.


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