Saturday September 27, 2003

Inside skinny on office fat

There was an article in today's SF Chronicle about how the workplace contributes to the obesity problem. Here's an excerpt:
The workplace study, a random sampling of 611 working adults from around the country, found that although 32 percent of workers usually skip breakfast and/or lunch, they aren't exactly doing a Gandhi impression. Eighty-nine percent admit to snacking during the workday, with more than half embracing fat and sugar's greatest hits: chips, candy and doughnuts.

Hunger and the need for energy are the main explanations they give, according to the study, sponsored by the American Association of Working People, the Institute for Health and Productivity Management and the makers of the Ensure nutritional drink. An additional 23 percent of workers blame stress.

And here's my favorite: 27 percent snack because they're bored. Workers under 25 were twice as likely as their older colleagues to use that as their explanation.

[by Dave Murphy, SF Chronicle; read the rest of the original article on the web at]

I sent a note to the writer with some additional comments.

I would have liked to see more emphasis in the article on the company's role in the problem. Although you did mention that you've "yet to see a message from a co-worker saying 'Free arugula at the giveaway table'"*, and you did point out how companies could support healthier habits, you failed to mention the ways that companies currently support and ensure the _unhealthy_ habits.

In 16 years as a fulltime employee, I noticed that companies take a very proactive position in forcing food onto their employees. Not only do the employees bring treats to share in the break room (the best way to get rid of that box of mediocre cookies is to fob them off on your co-workers). But the company itself constantly plies the workers with food -- Donuts and bagels in the morning; lunchtime meetings with catered pizza or cold cuts; afternoon beer busts with noshes; monthly departmental birthday parties with cake and ice cream; Hello lunches for new employees; Goodbye lunches for departing employees. Food, food, food. I've known people who never bother to bring a lunch; they know that somewhere they can find food at work.

I learned long ago to simply say NO to most of the free food (I still occasionally eat one bagel on bagel mornings). It takes a lot of effort and will power (it also helps when there is someone at home who won't be pleased by "I'm not hungry; we had pizza at work" as an excuse not to have dinner together!)

*By the way, I have occasionally seen free tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash and catnip on the giveaway table ;-)

Sunday Sept. 28, 2003

Yipes! We went to Target today to pick up a package of window curtains. Have you ever noticed how much snack food they have near the cash registers? Cookies, candy, crackers, bags of chips, boxes of granola bars, sodas! It's enough to make you gain 5 pounds just breathing the air.

Inside skinny on office fat ( in category Special Interests ) - posted at Sat, 27 Sep, 22:51 Pacific | «e»