Is your workplace making you gain weight?
The convenient vending machines full of junk food, the candy bowls on co-workers’ desks, the leftovers from meetings and events, the vendor-supplied snacks, the staff member who likes to bake, unhealthy cafeteria selections, long hours seated at multiple meetings or behind your desk are all signs of an “obesogenic” workplace – an environment ripe for promoting weight gain.
‘Obesogenic‘ is a recent medical term for factors tending to make individuals overweight. It’s even been added to the Merriam-Websters dictionary. An obesogenic environment is one that encourages people to eat unhealthily and not exercise enough.
If your workday consists mainly of sitting, while eating snacks throughout the day, you may notice that your clothes are feeling a little snug.
“The typical person makes about 200 food-related decisions a day, but she believes she makes 25 to 30. And it’s those 175 that you’re not aware of that can push you to eat more,” Brian Wansink, Ph.D., the director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab said in Real Simple magazine.
And many of those decisions are tied to where you spend the majority of your day, health experts say.
”While you probably don’t want to change your employment, there are things you can do to change your work environment,” says Dr. Zamojski. “If you always have a piece of chocolate when you meet with a co-worker in his office, suggest meeting in your office instead, or ask him to put the candy away when you meet. You want to change your mindset and stop picturing ‘chocolate’ when you think of meeting with this person.”
Dr. Zamojski offers some more tips to improve your work environment and overall lifestyle for a healthier you:
- Join your work’s lunchtime fitness program, or start a lunch hour walking club.
- Pack your own healthy snacks and lunch, so you are not tempted by the candy bowls, unhealthy snacks and poor cafeteria selections.
- Ask your cafeteria’s management to provide healthier options.
- Ask your employer to provide healthier vending machine selections.
- Take the stairs as often as possible.
- Park as far away from the entrance as you can.
- On your break, head outside for a walk instead of heading to the break room.
- Wear a pedometer or a Fitbit® to challenge yourself to move more each day.
About the Author
Kate Eller was a regional director of public affairs and marketing operations for Advocate Health Care. She enjoys road trips, dogs, minimalism, yoga, hiking, and “urban hiking.”