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Is Work Making You Fat?

Is Work Making You Fat?

Free snacks, pizza parties and birthday cakes—oh my!

In a fifth-season episode of The Office, the staff, including executive Michael (Steve Carell), decides to play a game of food catch. They start by throwing cheese puffs into each other’s mouths. By the end, they’re stuffing their now-orange-colored faces with the junky snack food. Michael gets 32 at once into his mouth!

We’ve all encountered such temptations at work, whether it’s Free Pizza Fridays, birthday cake for the boss, candy and soda in vending machines or gloppy, fried stuff in the cafeteria.

And now, the CDC has published a report that looks at the work-food habits of 5,000 office workers. Turns out that office employees consume about 1,292 excess calories a week above what they regularly eat for meals while at work. And 70 percent of those calories are coming from free food.

These foods can cause substantial weight gain and expose folks to unhealthy additives found in processed and packaged foods (emulsifiers in cheeses, hormone disruptors in plastic-wrapped foods and unhealthy fats). So, while office camaraderie is associated with more happiness on the job and even more productivity, start an office-wide campaign to make food choices healthier and snacks less frequent.

Also, suggest forming a lunch-time walking club. Your stress response at work to daily deadlines, demanding bosses and difficult colleagues just amps up the temptation to make poor food choices. Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase your appetite. Shared physical activity at work (not including throwing cheese balls) helps dispel stress, builds team spirit and improves your overall health.

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