Almost half of all US workers say they have gained weight in their current job -- here's why

Everyone’s expected to pull their weight at work, but one study indicates that
gaining weight is a big problem for more than 2 in 5 workers.

According to CareerBuilder report from April, 44% of US workers say they have gained weight at their current job. Survey respondents cite desk work, being too tired to exercise, and stress as reasons for their weight gain.

High stress levels stand out as a particularly good indicator of weight gain. Frazzled employees tend to make less healthy decisions than their relaxed counterparts. A staggering 77% of workers facing “extremely high” stress levels say they are overweight, making them 53% more likely to say they’re overweight than individuals with low stress levels.

So how can organisations focus on employee health? Well, encouraging workers to sweat out their stress at the gym may not be super effective. One in four survey respondents had access to wellness perks. However, only 45% of this group took advantage of these opportunities.

“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,” CareerBuilder chief human resources officer Rosemary Haefner said in a press release. “To make wellness at work a priority, companies should emphasise its importance from top leadership down and focus on engagement, motivation, support and strategy when implementing new programs.”

The study also suggests that workplace weight gain boils down to a usual suspect: poor eating habits.

A whopping 78% of individuals who reported gaining weight at work admit to snacking in the office. However, snacking may not bear all the blame here. In fact, 68% of individuals who lost weight at their current job also snack. Healthier snackers crunch on carrots instead of chips and pay attention to what and how much they’re eating.

Like snacking, grabbing takeout or eating out for lunch at least once a week garnered mixed results in the survey. More than half (55%) of all individuals who lost weight reported dining out and eating takeout, along with 63% of those who gained weight. The biggest meal-related mistake to avoid is eating lunch at your desk: 65% of respondents who gained weight at their current job reported partaking in the dreaded desk lunch, compared with 42% of those who lost weight.

CareerBuilder’s survey, which was conducted by Harris Poll between February 10 and March 17, 2016, among 3,031 full-time, non-government, non-self employed adults, also found that certain individuals are more likely to gain weight at work than others.

Turns out some industries are more susceptible to weight gain. Transportation headed up CareerBuilder’s list, with 49% of respondents reporting weight gain. Healthcare came up a close second, coming in one percentage point behind transportation. Up next, financial services and sales tied at 46% reporting weight gain. Retail, manufacturing, and IT all fared slightly better.

An individual’s gender, age, and job level also affect their propensity for weight gain. About half of all women, compared to 39% of men, report gaining weight in their current job. Middle-aged workers are also more at risk: 47% of individuals, ages 35-54, report gaining weight, more than their younger and older counterparts.

And surprisingly, promotions might also make people more likely to pack on the pounds. Almost half (49%) of managers gained weight, beating out individuals in non-management roles.

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