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New Study Says Obesity Caused by Sedentary Office Jobs

New Study Blames Obesity on Office Jobs — Should Employers Intervene?

The obesity epidemic is not all about huge portions and processed foods — it's a no-brainer that a more sedentary lifestyle is part of the equation. And since most of us spend a good portion of the work day sitting in a chair, a new study published in the journal PLoS One has set about to quantify exactly how much those desk jobs are really hurting us. Turns out a lot; the number of desk-bound or light-activity jobs has increased in the last 50 years from 50 percent to 80 percent, leading to a loss of 140 to 160 calories burned a day.

These numbers are in line with the climbing obesity rate (currently one in three Americans), and while the results aren't surprising, it does show just how much the shift from more active jobs like those in farming and manufacturing has affected our national waistline. And having an understanding of how the eight or so hours in the day we spend sitting in a chair has led to a collective decrease in activity will help us get to the bottom of the reasons why our society continues to gain weight. Also, researchers want to use the findings as a way to encourage employers to offer incentives like discounted gym memberships or public transit fares (or even those hilarious-looking yet probably effective walking desk stations).

From taking walks at lunch (or the stairs instead of the elevator), office workers still have some fitness tricks up their sleeves. But does this study show that employers need to offer ways for workers to be more active, or should fitness be a personal responsibility?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
chris-wix chris-wix 6 years
How about the use of a treadmill desk at work or pedal desk. I use a product called FitDesk. It is a stationary bike that lets you pedal away while you type. I love it and so do my coworkers. There are simple solutions out there.
GummiBears GummiBears 6 years
That is what I am afraid of. I know if I get a job in the downtown area, I will bike to work, provided that the weather is fair. But if I get this job in the suburbs, I will have to find ways to exercise but I know I will squeeze it in. I don't watch much TV so I can squeeze in an hour.
cfp cfp 6 years
I recently started an office job (previously I was waitressing) and WOW what a difference. I have to spend at least two hours in the gym every day, and I am definitely watching what I eat now that I am sitting for 8 hours a day instead of running around like a mad woman! I WISH my company offered discounted gym memberships because I'd definitely take advantage of that. But I am finding ways to stay active. I actually bought one of those portable "stationary bikes" know, like old ladies with knee replacements use to rehab their joints! Everyone makes fun of me for it, but I pedal away at my desk, and even though it's not the same as getting a real workout, at least I am moving. I also take a walk for an hour instead of taking an hour lunch. If I get hungry I just eat a snack at my desk. The point is, it's definitely a lot more of a struggle to stay fit in this environment...and I can definitely see how someone who lacked willpower or drive to work out could easily become overweight in this kind of setting!
Vanonymous Vanonymous 6 years
Damn, GirlOverboard! I want to work where you work! I have an office job and have found ways to stay fit - but I can't thank my company for it. For example, this morning I got up at 5:30am so I could fit in a 5 mile run before work. On my lunch break (which is an hour), i power-walked 3 miles. I am the ONLY person at my work that takes a lunch break - everyone else works through it. I try to tell them that they'd be more productive if they stepped away, got some fresh air and stood up a bit, but no one does. In fact, they find it obnoxious that I take lunch. Too bad! I refuse to sit on my ass for 9 hours straight. :)
GirlOverboard GirlOverboard 6 years
I feel that people should be responsible for their own well-being, BUT I feel that a responsible company will offer what it can afford as far as resources and benefits to aid in physical health. I work for a company that I'm lucky has the ability to offer not only excellent health care, but gym/health facility discounts, an in-office mini-gym, and even an official Weight Watchers group with the company that owns the building that we're in. Even if we didn't have any of that, they do what they can to help out in our community and regularly schedule volunteer days that are physically active. Top that off with company softball, soccer, etc. and added perks for people that bike to work and I'd say we're a pretty healthy company. :) I just with every office job could be like this.
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