YOUR JOB IS MAKING YOU FAT: how office boredom affects your bottom and how your bottom affects the bottom line

You need to quit your job.  You should turn off the computer, move away from the desk, gather your belongings and quickly flee the scene.

Why?  Well, your job is really, really boring… and it’s making you fat.

A new study has revealed that one in four employees are bored at work, and that this boredom may lead to indulging on unhealthy foods while at work and the increased consumption of alcohol after hours.

Dr. Sandi Mann from the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom led a team of researchers who polled office workers.  Approximately twenty-five percent of respondents indicated that they were bored most of the time that they were at the office, essentially sleepwalking through the day in a catatonic state of existence.  Professionals often refer to this condition by its highly technical and scientific term: chronic boredom.

Dr. Mann explained that employees suffering from chronic boredom are more likely to eat excessive amounts of chocolate and similar snacks while at the office, and that they’re more likely to visit the local watering hole after punching the time clock.  The implications are fairly obvious: mindlessly snacking on unhealthy foods and routinely consuming alcohol can lead to weight gain and obesity.  These are… er… hefty concerns.

We already know that one third of American adults are obese and that another one-third are overweight.  We also already know that the prevalence of obesity has doubled over the past several decades and that obese people face increasing risks to their health.  These risks include significantly greater chances of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, liver and gallbladder disease, type 2 diabetes and various cancers.

Dr. Mann is now encouraging employers to implement programs that promote healthy means of coping with chronic boredom:

Reducing the sources of boredom could involve enrichment programs such as job rotation, multi-skilling and empowerment…  Encouraging healthier ways of coping could include education or providing healthy snacks and drinks in canteens [cafeterias].

Other researchers may agree that employers should be encouraged to implement these or other programs because employers are also suffering from the effects of obesity.  According to the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the disproportional size of an employee’s bottom may well be affecting an employer’s bottom line:

Obese workers miss more days of work and cost employers more in medical and disability claims as well as workers compensation claims. As a result, an average firm with 1,000 employees faces $285,000 per year in extra costs associated with obesity.

Not surprisingly, the aggregate effect of the situation is staggering: obesity may already be costing employers in excess of $73 billion per year.  It is also having a significant effect on the national economy.  The collective health care costs and overall loss of productivity resulting from obesity have been estimated to cost as much as $147 billion per year.

Just to put this into a bit of a thematic perspective: $147 billion could buy more than 148,000,000,000 Hershey Bars, these bars would weigh more than 14 billion pounds and they would contain more than 31 trillion calories.

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