It is a well known fact that America is getting bigger and not in a good way.
According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, between 1999 and 2002 and 2011 and 2014, the percentage of overweight adults rose from 17.9 percent to 20.6 percent. At the same time, the proportion of obese and morbidly obese adults rose to 8.8 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively.
One reason, according to workers at least, may be work-related stress.
According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 55 percent of U.S. workers feel they are overweight, and 44 percent of workers say they’ve gained weight in their present job. Twenty-five percent reported gaining more than 10 pounds, while 17 percent of workers say they’ve lost weight.
“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,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “To make wellness at work a priority, companies should emphasize its importance from top leadership down and focus on engagement, motivation, support and strategy when implementing new programs.”
When asked what they felt contributed to their weight gain at their current job, 53 percent said “sitting at the desk most of the day,” 45 percent said they are “too tired from work to exercise,” and 36 percent of workers said “eating because of stress.”
The national survey was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between February 10 and March 17, 2016 and included a representative sample of more than 3,000 full-time, U.S. workers in the private sector across industries and company sizes.
Is stress to blame?
Survey results reveal a strong association between on-the-job stress levels and workers who say they are overweight. Fewer than half of workers (41 percent) with extremely low stress levels feel they are overweight compared to 77 percent of workers with extremely high stress levels. Meaning, workers who say they have extremely high on-the-job stress are 53 percent more likely to say they’re overweight than workers who say they have extremely low stress.
The survey’s data shows that workers who managed to lose weight at their current job tend to snack and eat out less, exercise more and take advantage of their employers’ wellness benefits. Even leaving one’s desk for lunch may encourage healthier habits.
When separating out the workers in the survey by industry some more than others seem to be creating more stress.
- Transportation: 49 percent
- Health care: 48 percent
- Financial services: 46 percent
- Sales: 46 percent
- Retail: 40 percent
- Manufacturing: 39 percent
- IT: 38 percent
According to the American Psychological Association there are common factors in the workplace that create stress for workers. Their top factors are:
- Low salaries
- Excessive workloads
- Few opportunities for growth or advancement
- Work that isn’t engaging or challenging
- Lack of social support
- Not having enough control over job-related decisions
- Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations
There are probably as many pieces of advice for handling workplace stress as there are stressors. However, the website Happify.com seemed to have the most comprehensive list of stress-fighting advice. It maybe a good place to start.