Obesity May Begin at the Office

Time stuck behind desk means pounds added, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, July 20, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Being a desk jockey weighs heavily on workers, according to a study that finds the more a man sits at his desk, the more likely he is to be overweight.

The finding suggests office work may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic.

"The current findings present the sedentary workplace as a potentially hostile environment in terms of overweight and obesity," conclude the Australian authors of the study, which appears in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers at Queensland University examined data on nearly 1,600 male and female full-time workers. They found that workers sat an average of more than three hours a day, with 25 percent sedentary on the job for more than six hours a day.

Higher total daily sitting time was associated with a 68 percent increased risk of being overweight or obese.

Overall, men sat an average of 209 minutes while at work, 20 minutes more than the average for women. Those extra 20 minutes may make a difference: The study found a significant association between sitting time and overweight and obesity in men, but not in women.

Getting workers up and exercising may favorably affect their bosses' bottom line, the researchers added. "Time and productivity lost due to chronic diseases associated with overweight and obesity may make it financially worthwhile for employers to be more proactive in the health of their employees by promoting physical activity at work," they wrote.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about exercise.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, July 19, 2005


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