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Balancing weight with the office job

Survey finds that many workers putting on pounds amid mounting stress

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If you think your job is making you fat, well, you're on to something.

A recent survey by CareerBuilder.com found that 46 percent of workers say they have gained weight since starting their current jobs. One in five workers say they gained 10 pounds, while nearly one in 10 employees put on more than 20 pounds.

Workplace and wellness experts say it's easy to understand why. Office workers are confined to their desks more than ever. And we work longer and have hectic schedules.

"They are working a lot and they're not taking time to exercise," says John Kelly, president of the benefits strategies division at Kelly & Associates Insurance Group in Hunt Valley. "Most businesses don't have a facility for their workers to exercise in."

In general, workers are feeling more stress because of mounting workload pressures.

"People reach for comfort food when they're feeling stressed out," says Jennifer Sullivan, a spokeswoman at CareerBuilder.com, who reaches for M&Ms when things get too hectic at work.

You know what Sullivan is talking about. It's 3 p.m. and you're craving a caffeine or sugar fix. The vending machine is around the corner or there always seem to be sweets around the office. The survey found that 40 percent of more than 2,200 respondents eat more unhealthy snacks at work than they do at home.

The weight gain also depends on the industry, according to the survey. For instance, 57 percent of government workers put on pounds, while 35 percent of retail workers saw their waistlines swell.

It's not all bad news, though. Experts say the battle of the bulge can be fought at work.

Here are some tips:

  • Park your car farther away from the office so you can walk longer. Take a walk during or after lunch. Take steps instead of the elevator. Also, walk to your colleague's office or cubicle instead of sending an e-mail or instant message.

  • To avoid chips and candy, brownbag your lunch and include some healthy snacks, including crackers or raw vegetables.

  • Kelly also suggests having a healthy breakfast to start your workday.

    (Full disclosure: Tribune Co., which owns The Sun, also owns 42.5 percent of CareerBuilder.com.)

    How do you keep off the pounds at work? Send your tips, comments and questions to working@baltsun.com. Please include your first name and your city.
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