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Is office work fattening?

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics
No. The perception that because you are sitting most of the day, the food you eat will turn to fat is simply not true. Your body converts the calories you eat to fat when you eat too many calories. Sitting at a desk all day may be limiting the amount of calories you burn over the course of the day but it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to get fat. If you are moving less throughout the day, you will need to eat less to balance out, or you will need to move more outside the office. Either way you choose will help to prevent you from gaining weight.

Eight hours is a long time to sit at a desk. 

The high demand to meet deadlines and work expectations while keeping up with endless emails, texts, and other multimedia engagements means that many people work through their lunch breaks, work longer hours and are always on call. This is stressful and exhausting and can lead to mindless eating. 

Our bodies naturally crave sweets and fats when tired. Buying fast food and eating from vending machines means that many people are consuming additional calories just to stay fed as well as to fight boredom and exhaustion. 

So yes, office work can be fattening, but it doesn’t have to be!

Plan ahead - Spend 15 minutes packing a lunch in the morning with healthy foods from home. You’ll spend at least that much time looking for food while at work, and you’ll have a lot more control over what you eat as well as save money.

Keep healthy snacks at your desk, like apples, oranges, and banana’s, dry roasted nuts, dried fruit, carrot sticks, peanut butter and crackers, seaweed packs (may sound weird, but it’s delicious and can be found at Costco and Trader Joe’s.) 

Always keep bottled water or a re-usable water bottle at your desk. Generally around three or four o’clock we are tired and hungry - actually drinking a full glass of water will perk us up and re-energize us enough to help us through the rest of the day. 

Don’t forget to get up and stretch. Pack a lunch and use the time you would generally spend buying food to take a walk. 

Healthy alternatives do take planning, but the increased health benefit makes it all worth it!

Besides increasing the potential for neck, back, shoulder and arm pain, the sedentary style of office work contributes to the culture of obesity in the United States. This is especially true when lunch is junk food from the vending machines or fast food takeout.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.