More than half of employees say they are overweight

Workers blame weight gain on sedentary jobs

Posted May 23, 2017

Fifty-six percent of the nation's workforce believe they are overweight, and 45 percent believe they've gained weight at their present job, on par with last year, according to a new CareerBuilder survey.

Twenty-five percent of all workers said they gained more than 10 pounds at their current job; 10 percent gained more than 20 pounds.

Sedentary careers, stress-related eating, and workplace weariness can all deter workers from a healthy lifestyle. When surveyed about what they think contributes to weight gain at work, employees who have gained weight said:

  • Sitting at a desk most of the day (51 percent)
  • Too tired from work to exercise (45 percent)
  • Eating because of stress (38 percent)
  • No time to exercise before or after work (38 percent)
  • Eating out regularly (24 percent)
  • Having to skip meals because of time constraints (19 percent)
  • Workplace celebrations (18 percent)
  • The temptation of the office candy jar (16 percent)
  • Pressure to eat food co-workers bring in (8 percent)
  • Happy hours (4 percent)

Step it up – at least four days a week

Despite more than a third of workers who have gained weight at their present jobs saying they're too tired or don't have time to exercise, the majority of U.S. workers (59 percent) say they exercise on a regular basis. Workers in the West (67 percent) are the most likely to say this, followed by workers in the South (60 percent), the Northeast (57 percent), and the Midwest (53 percent).

But what does “on a regular basis” mean to Americans, and how much exercise is actually helping them lose weight? Three in ten (29 percent) regularly work out 3 or fewer days a week, and 29 percent regularly work out 4 or more days a week.

Consistency is key – 22 percent of U.S. workers who regularly work out 4 or more days a week say they lost weight at their present job, compared to 16 percent of those who regularly work out 3 or fewer days a week.

Forty-one percent of workers don't work out regularly or at all, and 47 percent of this group say they gained weight at their current job.

Snack attack

Exercise isn't the only key to losing weight — as they say, you are what you eat. A quarter of U.S. workers (24 percent) eat out at least three times per week for lunch instead of packing their lunch. Twelve percent of workers find their grub from the vending machine at least once a week. Workers are then taking their meals back to their desks — 56 percent eat from their work station.

Lunch isn't the only time the U.S. workforce is eating. Workers are munching away most of the day — 73 percent of workers snack on the job. Looking for colleagues that are the most likely to have snacks to share? Seventy-seven percent of women snack during the day, compared to 69 percent of men. Thirty-five to 44 year olds may also have a full snack drawer — 79 percent of this group snacks at work, more than 18-24 year olds (66 percent), 25-34 year olds (75 percent) and those over 45 (72 percent).

Does the industry you work in impact your weight?

It's widely known exercise and diet impact your health — but did you know your industry can? Workers in these industries feel they have gained weight at their job:

  • Financial services — 57 percent,
  • Health care — 50 percent,
  • Transportation — 50 percent,
  • Sales — 50 percent,
  • Information technology — 44 percent,
  • Manufacturing — 43 percent,
  • Leisure and hospitality — 42 percent, and
  • Retail — 37 percent.

Let us help you, says employers

Some employers are stepping in to help their employees get fit, but are employees using these tools? Twenty-eight percent of employees say their company provides gym passes, workout facilities or wellness benefits, but 63 percent of this group don't take advantage of them. Sixty-four percent of workers say their employers do not offer wellness benefits, but if offered, 42 percent believe they would take advantage of them.

Survey methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 3,420 workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, including 3,215 in the private sector) between February 16 and March 9, 2017 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 3,420, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.68 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

LivingRight®: Health & Wellness Awareness ProgramJ. J. Keller's LivingRight®: Health & Wellness Awareness Program offers an easy way to help control healthcare costs and promote employee wellness.


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