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Workplace Cited as a New Source of Rise in Obesity –

Gli stand - FORUM PA 2011
The amount of physical activity in a typical work day has changed dramatically in the past 50 years. Image by Forum PA via Flickr

To be perfectly honest, I have gained a significant amount of weight since starting my new job in November. I avoid the free sodas but can’t resist the occasional free chocolate, and combined with being chained to my computer for typically 10 hours at a time (or more) BOY is it adding up. And apparently I am not alone:

A sweeping review of shifts in the labor force since 1960 suggests that a sizable portion of the national weight gain can be explained by declining physical activity during the workday. Jobs requiring moderate physical activity, which accounted for 50 percent of the labor market in 1960, have plummeted to just 20 percent.

The remaining 80 percent of jobs, the researchers report, are sedentary or require only light activity. The shift translates to an average decline of 120 to 140 calories a day in physical activity, closely matching the nation’s steady weight gain over the past five decades, according to the report, published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One.

Today, an estimated one in three Americans are obese. Researchers caution that workplace physical activity most likely accounts for only one piece of the obesity puzzle, and that diet, lifestyle and genetics all play important roles.

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Thankfully there are things I can do at work, like adjust my desk so that I can stand instead. I often take breaks to wiggle or stretch, and I get a discount at several local gyms. But this is not enough, and if we want to not have to pay for workers’ lifestyle-induced health problems, from obesity to carpal tunnel syndrome, we need to encourage businesses to improve health in the workplace!

For starters, no free candy and less hours expected of your workers! You’ll get more productive workers, really really!

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