Your workplace stress could be to blame for your expanding waistline, new research finds.
There is a strong correlation between on-the-job stress levels and overweight employees, according to a study from CareerBuilder. More than three-quarters of workers with extremely high stress levels feel they are overweight, compared with just 41 percent with extremely low stress levels.
"Workers are becoming more and more health-conscious, but due to higher stress, longer work days and constant multitasking, it is more difficult to find the time to act on wellness goals," Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, said in a statement.
Overall, 55 percent of U.S. workers feel they are overweight, with 44 percent of having gained weight in their current job. The research found that 25 percent of workers have gained more than 10 pounds in their present job.
Women and middle-aged workers are the most prone to packing on some extra pounds. The research found that 49 percent of women have gained weight in their present job, compared to just 39 percent of men. Additionally, 47 percent of workers between ages 35 and 54 bulked up in their position, compared with 40 percent of those under age 35 and 43 percent of those over age 55. [See Related Story: 3 Big Changes to Beat Workplace Stress]
Some jobs are contributing more to employee weight gain than others. The study revealed that 49 percent of workers in the transportation industry feel like they've put on weight in their job, with 48 percent of those in health care jobs feeling the same. Other industries where at least 38 percent of workers have gained weight include financial services, sales, retail, manufacturing and IT.
Not surprisingly, employee eating and workout habits are playing a role in who is gaining and losing weight. Workers who steer clear of takeout food, don't snack at work or regularly eat at their desk, exercise at least three times a week and take advantage of employer wellness benefits are more likely to say they've lost weight in their current job. In all, 17 percent of employees have shed pounds since starting their job.
The research shows that few workers are taking advantage of the wellness opportunities their company provides. While a quarter of employees have access to employer-sponsored wellness benefits, such as on-site workout facilities and gym passes, just 45 percent of employees actually use them.
"To make wellness at work a priority, companies should emphasize its importance from top leadership on down and focus on engagement, motivation, support and strategy when implementing new programs," Haefner said.
The study was based on surveys of 3,031 full-time workers ages 18 and over.