Standing up may be worse than sitting down at work: study

HRM 24 Jan 2013

Contrary to popular belief, the long standing hours of labour-intensive jobs may not be able to ward off weight gain. In fact, they might even gain weight due to other factors apart from inactivity.

Despite the physically demanding work in low-wage, non-sedentary jobs, employees are still plagued by excess weight, says a study by the University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.

Several workplace impediments to healthy eating were highlighted by study participants, such as non-existent lunch breaks, a lack of healthy options in the vicinity, and a lack of workplace space and equipment for meals. Reasons linking labour-intensive jobs with weight gain include factors such as physical fatigue from work which leads to eating more food, lack of sleep, and shift work which disrupts hormone balances.

Working conditions can play an important role in supporting workers’ dietary intakes, the study elaborated.  With a designed area for breaks and appliances for refrigerating and heating up food, workers can bring prepared food to store. Moreover, some workers eat out for lunch about once or more times a week, and options available at the workplace usually include fast-food restaurants, on-site cafeterias, grocery stores, and vending machines.

Some suggestions for workers to motivate employer action include developing a “business case” to highlight costs of having an obese workforce, creating a healthy worksite certification and subsidising healthy foods in the workplace.



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